Definition of whipsaw in 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The first coal shipped from the valley was loaded into boats made of logs and whipsawed lumber and floated down the river.’
  • 2informal 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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘But Tuesday's contrasting administration rhetoric about the war on terrorism underscores a problem that has whipsawed ordinary citizens for months.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All of this has left Black West Palm Beach spinning, whipsawed between runaway private development and an enduring legacy of political neglect.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He sees an increasing number of Saudis who are whipsawed between a new materialism and traditional values.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1 Compel to do something.
      ‘he whipsawed the state legislature into passing his educational-reform package’
      • ‘Use the Internet to whipsaw suppliers into shape.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Laura Bush is all deferential and smiles in public, but you can bet that she whipsaws him like a swing in private.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 2.2 Cheat or exploit.
      • ‘If we let them whipsaw us and beat us to death, and just go like a whipped puppy off into the sunset, we lose respect.’
    3. 2.3Stock Market Subject to a double loss, as when buying a security before the price falls and selling before the price rises.
      ‘even the most skilled traders are sometimes whipsawed’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’