Origin of whip

1200–50; Middle English w(h)ippe (noun), w(h)ippen (v.); cognate with Dutch wippen to swing, oscillate; compare Low German wip(pe) quick movement
Related formswhip·like, adjectivewhip·per, nouno·ver·whip, verb (used with object), o·ver·whipped, o·ver·whip·ping.pre·whip, verb (used with object), pre·whipped, pre·whip·ping.self-whip·per, nounun·whipt, adjective

Synonyms for whip

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whips

Contemporary Examples of whips

Historical Examples of whips

  • Before him went runners with whips and rods to clear the way.

  • You will have to fly like curs before the whips of your own men.

  • Whips of money at him, Liza—whips of it—millions, they're saying.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • The letters, the messages, the presents, these had been the whips and scorpions in his hand.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • And we'll see which set of whips are to have the honour of offering me anything.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for whips


pl n

(often foll by of) Australian informal a large quantityI've got whips of cash at the moment


verb whips, whipping or whipped

to strike (a person or thing) with several strokes of a strap, rod, etc
(tr) to punish by striking in this manner
(tr; foll by out, away, etc) to pull, remove, etc, with sudden rapid motionto whip out a gun
(intr; foll by down, into, out of, etc) informal to come, go, etc, in a rapid sudden mannerthey whipped into the bar for a drink
to strike or be struck as if by whippingthe tempest whipped the surface of the sea
(tr) to criticize virulently
(tr) to bring, train, etc, forcefully into a desired condition (esp in the phrases whip into line and whip into shape)
(tr) informal to overcome or outdoI know when I've been whipped
(tr; often foll by on, out, or off) to drive, urge, compel, etc, by or as if by whipping
(tr) to wrap or wind (a cord, thread, etc) around (a rope, cable, etc) to prevent chafing or fraying
(tr) nautical to hoist by means of a rope through a single pulley
(tr) (in fly-fishing) to cast the fly repeatedly onto (the water) in a whipping motion
(tr) (in sewing) to join, finish, or gather with whipstitch
to beat (eggs, cream, etc) with a whisk or similar utensil to incorporate air and produce expansion
(tr) to spin (a top)
(tr) informal to stealhe whipped her purse


a device consisting of a lash or flexible rod attached at one end to a stiff handle and used for driving animals, inflicting corporal punishment, etc
a whipping stroke or motion
a person adept at handling a whip, as a coachman, etc
(in a legislative body)
  1. a member of a party chosen to organize and discipline the members of his faction, esp in voting and to assist in the arrangement of the business
  2. a call issued to members of a party, insisting with varying degrees of urgency upon their presence or loyal voting behaviour
  3. (in the British Parliament) a schedule of business sent to members of a party each week. Each item on it is underlined to indicate its importance: one line means that no division is expected, two lines means that the item is fairly important, and three lines means that the item is very important and every member must attend and vote according to the party line
an apparatus for hoisting, consisting of a rope, pulley, and snatch block
any of a variety of desserts made from egg whites or cream beaten stiff, sweetened, and flavoured with fruit, fruit juice, etc
a windmill vane
transient elastic movement of a structure or part when subjected to sudden release of load or dynamic excitation
a percussion instrument consisting of two strips of wood, joined forming the shape of a V, and clapped loudly together
flexibility, as in the shaft of a golf club, etc
a ride in a funfair involving bumper cars that move with sudden jerks
a wrestling throw in which a wrestler seizes his opponent's arm and spins him to the floor
a fair crack of the whip informal a fair chance or opportunity
Derived Formswhiplike, adjectivewhipper, noun

Word Origin for whip

C13: perhaps from Middle Dutch wippen to swing; related to Middle Dutch wipfen to dance, German Wipfel tree top
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for whips



early 14c., from whip (v.). In parliamentary use from 1850 (the verb in this sense is recorded from 1742), from the sense in fox-hunting. The parliamentary whip's duty originally was to ensure the attendance of party members on important occasions.



mid-13c., wippen "flap violently," from Proto-Germanic *wipp- (cf. Danish vippe "to raise with a swipe," Middle Dutch, Dutch wippen "to swing," Old High German wipf "swing, impetus"), from PIE *wib- "move quickly." The cookery sense is from 1670s. Related: Whipped; whipping. Whipping boy first recorded 1640s; whipping block is from c.1877. Whip-saw is attested from 1530s; whip snake first recorded 1774.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for whips


In the United States Congress or state legislatures, an assistant to the majority leader or minority leader responsible for stirring up party support on issues, keeping track of party members' votes, and acting as a general liaison between the majority leader or minority leader and other party members.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with whips


In addition to the idiom beginning with whip

  • whip up

also see:

  • crack the whip
  • lick (whip) into shape
  • smart as a whip
  • upper (whip) hand
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.