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Whipsaw is a word with a literal meaning that has come to also have a figurative meaning. We will examine the definitions of the word whipsaw, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The literal meaning of the word whipsaw is a handsaw that is used by two people in order to cut a log. Whipsaw has also come to mean to be pulled in alternate directions in a rapid manner, first used in the 1800s. This may a physical event or a figurative event. The term whipsaw has come to be used in business circles to mean a situation in which the price of a financial instrument goes in one direction, but then quickly moves in the opposite direction. This may mean in an upward direction quickly followed by a downward direction, or it may mean a downward direction quickly followed by an upward direction. Whipsaw is used as a noun or a transitive verb, related words are whipsaw, whipsawed, whipsawing. Note that whipsaw is a closed compound word, which is a word composed of two separate words joined together without a space or hyphen.


However, urban affairs expert Richard Florida’s call for the 20 to sign a “non-aggression pact” — to refrain from trying to one-up each other with financial incentives — is a worthy suggestion in an age when big business repeatedly bullies, extorts and whipsaws local governments. (The Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Of course, with Bitcoin prices whipsawing daily, including its recent swoon from nearly $20,000 in December to $10,000 a month later, these crypto-retirees are rolling the dice. (Forbes Magazine)

Bitcoin, meanwhile, whipsawed investors, falling below US$8,000 for the first time since November before recovering most of last Friday’s losses, as a miserable 2018 continued for cryptocurrencies. (The Straits Times)