Crack the whip

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Crack the whip is an idiom that may be older than you think. We will examine the meaning of the idiom crack the whip, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Crack the whip means to push someone to work harder, to demand more work from someone or that someone work faster or longer. A boss who is known to crack the whip is unreasonable. Usually, one can not satisfy a boss who will crack the whip. The idiom crack the whip is derived from a literal phrase, crack the whip, that came into use at least as early as the 1600s. This phrase describes the literal cracking of a whip over a horse’s head to startle him into obeying. The idiom crack the whip came into use sometime in the latter-1800s. Crack the whip is also a well-known children’s game that involves children holding hands in a chain. The lead child runs in random patterns across an area, dragging the line of children behind him so that the formation resembles a cracking whip. Related phrases are cracks the whip, cracked the whip, cracking the whip.


Somebody has to crack the whip over the company’s messy efforts, and the hedge fund Elliott Management raised its hand this week for the job. (The Wall Street Journal)

With 63 clauses of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, coming into effect from September 1, the Centre is all set to crack the whip on some of the most common traffic violations across the country. (The Indian Express)

In his capacity as the chair of the Gauteng ANC caucus, provincial premier David Makhura issued a stern warning to cadres deployed in local government – the party is going to “crack the whip” on all problems facing local government in the province, especially on issues relating to corruption and mismanagement. (The Daily Maverick)

From cave-bound Indiana Jones-style action to otherworldly sequences that play out like the third act of Poltergeist (the PG-rated horror on which writer-producer Spielberg cracked the whip), Muschietti draws heavily on the ETdirector’s back catalogue. (The Guardian)

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