Flail meaning

flāl
To flail is defined as to wave or swing about wildly or to flounder.

When you wave your arms around wildly, this is an example of flail.

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The definition of a flail is a farm tool that is a long-handled stick that is swung to thresh grain.

An example of a flail is a tool used to toss grain up in the air.

noun
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A manual threshing device consisting of a long wooden handle or staff and a shorter, free-swinging stick attached to its end.
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To beat or strike with or as if with a flail.

Flailed our horses with the reins.

verb
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To wave or swing vigorously; thrash.

Flailed my arms to get their attention.

verb
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To thresh using a flail.
verb
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To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about.

Arms flailing helplessly in the water.

verb
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To strike or lash out violently.

Boxers flailing at each other in the ring.

verb
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To thresh grain.
verb
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A farm tool consisting of a free-swinging stick tied to the end of a long handle, used to thresh grain.
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To thresh with a flail.
verb
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To strike or beat as with a flail.
verb
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To move (one's arms) about like flails.

Flailing about in vain attempts to establish a career.

verb
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A tool used for threshing, consisting of a long handle with a shorter stick attached with a short piece of chain, thong or similar material.
noun
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A weapon which has the (usually spherical) striking part attached to the handle with a flexible joint such as a chain.
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To beat using a flail or similar implement.
verb
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To wave or swing vigorously.
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To thresh.
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(intransitive) To move like a flail.

He was flailing wildly, but didn't land a blow.

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Origin of flail

  • Middle English from Old English flegil and from Old French flaiel both from Late Latin flagellum threshing tool from Latin flagrum whip
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
  • From Middle English flaile, flayle, from earlier Middle English fleil, fleyl, fleȝȝl, flegl, from Old English fligel, *flegel (“flail”), from Proto-Germanic *flagilaz (“flail, whip”), of uncertain origin. Cognate with Scots flail (“a thresher's flail”), West Frisian fleil, flaaiel (“flail”), Dutch vlegel (“flail”), Low German vlegel (“flail”), German Flegel (“flail”). Possibly a native Germanic form from Proto-Germanic *flag-, *flah- (“to whip, beat”), from Proto-Indo-European *plak-, *plāk- ("to beat, hit, strike; weep"; compare Lithuanian plàkti (“to whip, lash, flog”), Ancient Greek πληγνύναι (plēgnýnai, “strike, hit, encounter”), Latin plangō (“lament", i.e. "beat one's breast”)) + Proto-Germanic *-ilaz (instrumental suffix); or a borrowing of Latin flagellum, diminutive of flagrum (“scourge, whip”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlag-, *bʰlaǵ- ("to beat"; compare Old Norse blekkja (“to beat, mistreat”)). Compare also Old French flael (“flail”), Italian flagello (“scourge, whip, plague”).
    From Wiktionary