A whip is a tool traditionally used by humans to exert control over animals or other people, through pain compliance or fear of pain, although in some activities whips can be used without use of pain, such as an additional pressure aid in dressage. Whips are generally of two types, either a firm stick device designed to strike directly, or a flexible whip which must be swung in a specific manner to be effective, but has a longer reach. There are also whips which combine both a firm stick (the stock or handle) and a flexible line (the lash or thong), such as hunting whips.
The majority of whips are designed for use on animals, although whips such as the “cat o’ nine tails” and knout were designed specifically for flagellation of humans as a means of a corporal punishment or torture. Whips can be used on oneself as part of a religious practice, or on consenting persons during BDSM activities.