to whip the cat

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Whip \Whip\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Whipped; p. pr. & vb. n.
   Whipping.] [OE. whippen to overlay, as a cord, with other
   cords, probably akin to G. & D. wippen to shake, to move up
   and down, Sw. vippa, Dan. vippe to swing to and fro, to
   shake, to toss up, and L. vibrare to shake. Cf. Vibrate.]
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   1. To strike with a lash, a cord, a rod, or anything slender
      and lithe; to lash; to beat; as, to whip a horse, or a
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   2. To drive with lashes or strokes of a whip; to cause to
      rotate by lashing with a cord; as, to whip a top.
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   3. To punish with a whip, scourge, or rod; to flog; to beat;
      as, to whip a vagrant; to whip one with thirty nine
      lashes; to whip a perverse boy.
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            Who, for false quantities, was whipped at school.
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   4. To apply that which hurts keenly to; to lash, as with
      sarcasm, abuse, or the like; to apply cutting language to.
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            They would whip me with their fine wits. --Shak.
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   5. To thrash; to beat out, as grain, by striking; as, to whip
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   6. To beat (eggs, cream, or the like) into a froth, as with a
      whisk, fork, or the like.
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   7. To conquer; to defeat, as in a contest or game; to beat;
      to surpass. [Slang, U. S.]
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   8. To overlay (a cord, rope, or the like) with other cords
      going round and round it; to overcast, as the edge of a
      seam; to wrap; -- often with about, around, or over.
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            Its string is firmly whipped about with small gut.
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   9. To sew lightly; specifically, to form (a fabric) into
      gathers by loosely overcasting the rolled edge and drawing
      up the thread; as, to whip a ruffle.
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            In half-whipped muslin needles useless lie. --Gay.
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   10. To take or move by a sudden motion; to jerk; to snatch;
       -- with into, out, up, off, and the like.
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             She, in a hurry, whips up her darling under her
             arm.                                 --L'Estrange.
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             He whips out his pocketbook every moment, and
             writes descriptions of everything he sees.
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   11. (Naut.)
       (a) To hoist or purchase by means of a whip.
       (b) To secure the end of (a rope, or the like) from
           untwisting by overcasting it with small stuff.
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   12. To fish (a body of water) with a rod and artificial fly,
       the motion being that employed in using a whip.
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             Whipping their rough surface for a trout.
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   To whip in, to drive in, or keep from scattering, as hounds
      in a hurt; hence, to collect, or to keep together, as
      member of a party, or the like.

   To whip the cat.
       (a) To practice extreme parsimony. [Prov. Eng.] --Forby.
       (b) To go from house to house working by the day, as
           itinerant tailors and carpenters do. [Prov. & U. S.]
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