crack the whip


crack the whip


  • make someone work harder by asserting power or authority
  • put a person under pressure to do a job or be obedient
  • harshly push someone (usually your staff) to do more
  • demand or bully someone to work harder, faster, or more efficiently

Example Sentences

  1. We’d better get some work done, or he’ll crack the whip when he gets back from his tea break.
  2. Mark looked out of his office window and saw all the office staff lounging around, drinking coffee without a care in the world. Time to crack the whip, he thought.
  3. The company is three months behind with the orders, so the boss has started to crack the whip.
  4. My fingers are so sore from all the sewing today. The supervisor was really cracking the whip because we’ve missed the delivery date for this order of coats.
  5. The new officer is cracking the whip against significant rule violations.


This informal phrase has been used since the mid-1600s and comes from the literal crack of a whip above the horse’s heads as they pulled wagons. The loud noise startles them to attention or makes them go faster. The idiom has been used by figures in authority towards their subordinate workers since the 1800s.

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