late 15c., "move with a rapid sweeping motion" (intransitive), from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish viske "to wipe, rub, sponge," Norwegian, Swedish viska "wipe," also "wag the tail"), from the source of whisk (n.). Transitive sense is from 1510s; meaning "to brush or sweep (something) lightly over a surface" is from 1620s. Related: Whisked; whisking.
late 14c., "quick stroke, sweeping movement," probably from Old Norse visk "wisp of hay, something to sweep with," from Proto-Germanic *wisk- "move quickly" (source also of Danish visk "broom," Middle Dutch wisch, Dutch wis, Old High German wisc, German wisch "wisp, brush"), from PIE root *weis- "to turn, twist" (source also of Sanskrit veskah "noose," Czech vechet "a wisp of straw," Old English wiscian "to plait," weoxian "to clean" with a whisk or brush). Unetymological spelling with wh- is from 1570s. Meaning "implement for beating eggs, etc." first recorded 1660s.
"hair of a man's face" (usually plural), c. 1600, originally a playful formation, from Middle English wisker "anything that whisks or sweeps" (early 15c.), agent noun from whisk (v.). In reference to animal lip hair, recorded from 1670s. Related: Whiskered; whiskers.
card game for four, 1660s, alteration of whisk, name of a kind of card game, alluded to as early as 1520s, perhaps so called from the notion of "whisking" up cards after each trick, and thus from whisk (v.). Altered perhaps on assumption that the word was an interjection invoking silence, by influence of whist "silent" (15c.).
respelling of Old English hw- attested from 11c., but not the common form until after c. 1400. It represents PIE *kw-; in German reduced to simple w-, in Scandinavian as hv-, kv-, or v-.
It also was added unetymologically to some borrowed words (whisk, whiskey) and some native words formerly spelled with simple w- or h- (whole, whore). In the 15c. flowering of its use it also threatened to change the spelling of hot, home and many more. In northern English 16c.-18c., sometimes altered to quh- (see Q). Proper pronunciation has been much in dispute in educated speech.
early 14c., "handful or bundle of hay, grass, etc.," used for burning or cleaning or as a cushion; perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word, cognate with Norwegian and Swedish visp "wisp," of unknown origin; sometimes said to be connected with whisk or with Middle Low German and Middle Dutch wispel "a measure of grain." Meaning "thin, filmy portion" first attested 1836.
in reference to a bit of wire mesh on a handle, 1917, from fly (n.) + agent noun from swat (v.). Simple swatter was used in this sense by 1906. Other older names for similar implements were fly-duster (1860), fly-whisk (1836), fly-brush (1823), fly-fan (1821), fly-flap (mid-15c., glossing Latin muscarium).