Definition of whipsaw in US English:



  • A saw with a narrow blade and a handle at both ends, used typically by two people.

    • ‘The rich dark wood of its walls and floor - all rudely smoothed with the broadaxe and the whip-saw.’


[with object]North American
  • 1Cut with a whipsaw.

    ‘he was whipsawing lumber’
    • ‘Many skis were just a whipsawed piece of lumber four to six inches in width with an upturned tip, but they worked well enough to transport the skier to where he wanted to go.’
    • ‘They probably won't actually have to whipsaw timbers to make their own boats, but lots of other touches will be as authentic as can be arranged.’
    • ‘The first coal shipped from the valley was loaded into boats made of logs and whipsawed lumber and floated down the river.’
    1. 1.1informal Subject to two difficult situations or opposing pressures at the same time.
      ‘the army has been whipsawed by a shrinking budget and a growing pool of recruits’
      • ‘The whipsawing emotions are something they tell you to expect, but it just doesn't prepare you for the actual experience.’
      • ‘The tech-services industry has been whipsawed as the red-hot demand of the late 1990s turned into the deep freeze of the past few years.’
      • ‘He sees an increasing number of Saudis who are whipsawed between a new materialism and traditional values.’
      • ‘All the mental health care professionals we know have been whipsawed between their ideals for practice - based both on knowledge of patients and on their own self-image - and the narrow demands of managed care.’
      • ‘Ridge's statement may have whipsawed citizens, but what was the alternative?’
      • ‘Since blocking Smith was a lost cause, because of Biden's defection, the other Democrats felt sympathy for Edwards, who was getting whipsawed between his national ambitions and his home-state politics.’
      • ‘All of this has left Black West Palm Beach spinning, whipsawed between runaway private development and an enduring legacy of political neglect.’
      • ‘But Tuesday's contrasting administration rhetoric about the war on terrorism underscores a problem that has whipsawed ordinary citizens for months.’
      • ‘So my theory is that pretty much all of their songs are the rock equivalent of ‘The Ice Storm’: a look at the despair and chaos that whipsaws people who try to live as moral beings in an amoral society.’
    2. 1.2informal Compel to do something.
      • ‘Laura Bush is all deferential and smiles in public, but you can bet that she whipsaws him like a swing in private.’
      • ‘However, suppliers say they are not comfortable with the digital exchanges, believing them to be overrated, and nothing more than a more efficient way for OEMs to whipsaw them for even greater price concessions.’
      • ‘It is inevitable, however, that the company will use the threat of plant closings to whipsaw workers in different factories to accept further concessions in wages and working conditions.’
      • ‘Use the Internet to whipsaw suppliers into shape.’
    3. 1.3Stock Market informal Subject to a double loss, as when buying a security before the price falls and selling before the price rises.
      • ‘If, however, more companies opt for no guidance, the Street may inadvertently become more rational and therefore stop whipsawing stock prices for miniscule variances.’
      • ‘But in the past few months the dollar has been confounding forecasters - and whipsawing short-sellers - by rebounding sharply.’
      • ‘Citi's actions weren't illegal, but broke an unwritten understanding not to whipsaw markets or take advantage of the thin summer trading.’
      • ‘Consumers are also getting whipsawed by the stock market, which has failed to rally despite Fed rate cuts.’
    4. 1.4 Cheat or beat (someone) in two ways at once or by the collusion of two others.
      • ‘‘AMR has been a master in years past at whipsawing, basically taking different employee groups from different companies and working them against each other for the cheapest price,’ added Higgins.’