A whip is a tool which was traditionally designed to strike animals or people to aid guidance or 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 or visual directional cue in equestrianism. Whips are generally of two types, either a firm stick designed for direct contact, or a flexible whip that requires a specialized swing to be effective, but has a longer reach and greater force, but may have less precision. 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 specifically developed for flagellation as a means of inflicting corporal punishment or torture on human targets. Certain religious practices and BDSM activities involve the self-use of whips or the use of whips between consenting partners. Misuse on animals may be considered animal cruelty, and misuse on humans may be viewed as assault.
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