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Uncertain. Originally Scottish. Probably onomatopoeic, although possibly a variant of thwack.



whack (plural whacks)

  1. The sound of a heavy strike.
  2. The strike itself.
  3. The stroke itself, regardless of its successful impact.
  4. (US, slang) An attempt, a chance, a turn, a go, originally an attempt to beat someone or something.
    C'mon. Take a whack at it.
    40 bucks a whack.
  5. (originally Britain cant, somewhat dated) A share, a portion, especially a full share or large portion.
    • 1906, Jack London, chapter 2, in White Fang, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, part 1, page 16:
      “It’s damned tame, whatever it is, comin’ in here at feedin’ time an’ gettin’ its whack of fish.”
    • 1938, Xavier Herbert, Capricornia, New York: Appleton, Chapter VII, page 108,[1]
      [] O'Cannon's a taxpayer. He pays his whack towards the upkeep of the State School up in town—”
    • 1951, Katherine Mansfield, Letters to John Middleton Murry, 1913-1922,
      For one thing I had a splendid supper when I got on board—a whack of cold, lean beef and pighells, bread, butter ad lib., tea, and plenty of good bread.
    • 2014, Anthony Pritchard, Grand Prix Ferrari (page 203)
      There were problems over the installation of the engine and the handling. The team had paid top whack for the two Coopers, but the company gave them no help at all.
  6. (obsolete) A whack-up: a division of an amount into separate whacks, a divvying up.
  7. (US, obsolete) A deal, an agreement.
    • 1876, Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Ch. vi, page 70:
      "I'll stay if you will."
      "Good—that's a whack."
    It's a whack!
  8. (dated, disco era drug slang) PCP, phencyclidine (as also wack).
  9. (typography, computing, slang) The backslash, ⟨ \ ⟩.
    del c:\docs\readme.txt
    Delete c colon whack docs whack readme dot text.

Derived terms[edit]



whack (third-person singular simple present whacks, present participle whacking, simple past and past participle whacked)

  1. To hit, slap or strike.
    • 1899 Feb, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, page 198:
      Therefore he whacked the old nigger mercilessly, while a big crowd of his people watched him, thunderstruck, till some man, - I was told the chief's son, - in desperation at hearing the old chap yell, made a tentative jab with a spear at the white man - and of course it went quite easy between the shoulder-blades.
    • G. W. Cable
      Rodsmen were whacking their way through willow brakes.
  2. (slang) To kill, bump off.
  3. (transitive, slang) To share or parcel out (often with up).
    to whack the spoils of a robbery
    • 1851, Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, London: G. Newbold, Volume 2, p. 152,
      When the sewer-hunters consider they have searched long enough [] the gang [] count out the money they have picked up, and proceed to dispose of the old metal, bones, rope, &c.; this done, they then, as they term it, “whack” the whole lot; that is, they divide it equally among all hands.
  4. (sports) To beat convincingly; to thrash.
    • 2012, Ryan Pyette, Majors, Panthers play mind games, The London Free Press:
      The fidgety Majors were whacked 9-1 by the Kitchener Panthers at Couch and now trail their rivals 2-0 in an increasingly uncomfortable best-of-seven Intercounty Baseball League first-round series.
  5. (Britain, chiefly in the negative) To surpass; to better.
    • 2012, Steve Cullen, Total Flyfisher:
      Recently I was over in Ireland, I love the place, proper fishing, can't whack it!


Derived terms[edit]



whack (comparative whacker, superlative whackest)

  1. Alternative form of wack (crazy)
    That's whack, yo!
    • 2007, Joyce E. Davis, Can't Stop The Shine, page 51:
      As they joked about the big butts on female celebrities and what rappers had the whackest lyrics, Malcolm paid little attention to Kalia besides squeezing her hand or grabbing her arm to hold himself up []


  • Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "whack, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1923.