The Meaning of Whiplash: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever wondered about the definition of whiplash? This article will provide you with all of the info you need on the word whiplash, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word whiplash mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the word whiplash is a noun that refers to the flexible, striking part of a whip. This is an abrupt snapping motion and change in direction, and can be used for other items or actions that resemble the lash of a whip. This word can also be used figuratively to describe some action that goes back and forth rapidly.

According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash is also a type of neck injury. This injury occurs due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Most often, whiplash occurs due to rear-end car accidents with rapid acceleration. However, it can also occur from other traumas like a faul, sports accidents, physical abuse, and more. Sometimes this is diagnosed as a neck strain or neck sprain but these can also include other types of injuries. Whiplash usually resolves within a few weeks, but some people have long-last complications and chronic neck pain. 

There are many different symptoms of whiplash. These include dizziness, fatigue, neck pain, neck stiffness, loss of range of motion in the neck, headaches that start at the base of the skull, worsening of pain with neck movement, tenderness and pain in the arms, upper back and shoulder, numbness or tingling of the arms, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), irritability, blurred vision, sleep disturbances, depression, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. A whiplash unjust can cause permanent damage to the muscles and ligaments, but in most cases, these can be resolved with various medications like pain medication or acupuncture. If this is caused by a sports injury or if it was caused by an automobile accident on someone who is active, they will need lots of rest from their sport to make sure they do not develop any chronic disorders. Doctors may take x-rays, CT scan (computed tomography) or other scans of the cervical vertebrae to make sure rehabilitation is possible. A person with whiplash may need to wear a neck brace and receive massage to alleviate weakness in the tendons. 

The abrupt snapping motion and change of direction during the collision that causes the injury to the collar region and cervical spine is where we get the name whiplash, like the quick lash of a whip. In most cases, the prognosis is good and the soft tissues, bruises, flexion, and muscle spasms will alleviate over time. At a physical exam, a doctor will likely prescribe painkillers like ibuprofen and NSAIDs to alleviate pain.

According to Dictionary, a whiplash curve can also refer to a connected series of reverse curves of more or less elliptical form. This style is a major design motif in Art Nouveau.

Many different languages also contain words that mean whiplash. You may notice that some of these translations of whiplash look or sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are two words in different languages that have a similar meaning, look and sound. These are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word whiplash is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Dutch: zweepslag‎
  •  Finnish: piiskanisku‎
  •  French: coup de fouet‎ (masc.)
  •  German: Peitschenriemen‎ (masc.)
  •  Italian: colpo‎ (masc.) di‎ frusta‎ (fem.)
  •  Portuguese: chicotada‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: реме́нь кнута́‎ (masc.), бечева́ плети́‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: tralla‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: pisksnärt‎ (common)

What is the origin of the word whiplash?

According to MacMillan Dictionary, the word whiplash has been sued since the 1570s to refer to the hit or lash of a whip. This comes from the word whip, which originates from the Middle Low German ‘wippe’ meaning quick movement, and the Middle English word ‘las’ which means a blow or stroke. Whiplash has been sued to describe the specific type of neck injury that usually occurs during a car accident since the year 1955.

How can the word whiplash be used in a sentence?

The word whiplash can be used in many different sentences. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes for yourself that test your knowledge of English words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few different examples of whiplash to get you started. 

Some days he’s so into me, and then other times he ignores me for weeks on end. I can’t do this anymore, it’s giving me whiplash. Next time he reaches out to me, I’m cutting things off with him. I deserve better than this. 

I was in a fender bender downtown. I thought I was fine after the accident, but the next morning I could barely move my neck at all. I went to the doctor, and sure enough, I have whiplash. Now I have to wear a neck brace for two whole weeks! 

When we went to the rodeo, my niece loved seeing the cowgirls riding the horses around the barrels and the sound of the whiplash. I can’t wait to take her again.

Overall, the word whiplash means a hit from a whip. This word can be sued both literally and figuratively to describe a jerking back-and-forth motion. . This is also an injury to the upper spine, spinal cord, discs, and soft tissue injuries that occurs most often in motor vehicle accidents. It is called whiplash because of the violent jerk of the head, causing hyperextension to the cervical collar. This may leave a red welt.


  1. whiplash: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Whiplash – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic 
  3. Whiplash | Definition of Whiplash | 
  4. What is whiplash? | MacMillan Dictionary 
  5. Whiplash definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary