Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A manual threshing device consisting of a long wooden handle or staff and a shorter, free-swinging stick attached to its end.
  • intransitive verb To beat or strike with or as if with a flail.
  • intransitive verb To wave or swing vigorously; thrash.
  • intransitive verb To thresh using a flail.
  • intransitive verb To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about.
  • intransitive verb To strike or lash out violently.
  • intransitive verb To thresh grain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To whip; scourge.
  • To strike with or as if with a flail; thresh.
  • noun An instrument for threshing or beating grain from the ear, consisting of the hand-staff, which is held in the hand, the swingle or swiple, which strikes the grain, and the middle band, which connects the hand-staff and swingle, and may be a thong of leather or a rope of hemp or straw.
  • noun Milit., a similar implement used as a weapon of war in the middle ages.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An instrument for threshing or beating grain from the ear by hand, consisting of a wooden staff or handle, at the end of which a stouter and shorter pole or club, called a swipe, is so hung as to swing freely.
  • noun An ancient military weapon, like the common flail, often having the striking part armed with rows of spikes, or loaded.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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 A weapon which has the (usually spherical) striking part attached to the handle with a flexible joint such as a chain.
  • verb To beat using a flail or similar implement.
  • verb To wave or swing vigorously
  • verb To thresh.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb move like a flail; thresh about
  • noun an implement consisting of handle with a free swinging stick at the end; used in manual threshing
  • verb give a thrashing to; beat hard

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English flegil and from Old French flaiel, both from Late Latin flagellum, threshing tool, from Latin flagrum, whip.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

Examples

  • The Army wanted a robot that could perform a task called "flail" - essentially tilling dirt to find bombs buried beneath, and then either disabling or detonating them without destroying the robot.

    Wired Top Stories

  • I am indulgent on this, I suppose: it won’t do them any good in the long-term, watching them flail is amusing, and they’ll probably cut something that will seriously annoy their base support.

    And now, a little screaming from Steny Hoyer. | RedState

  • When we thresh our corn, the flail is the final cause of the separation of the grain.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • When we thresh our corn, the flail is the final cause of the separation of the grain.

    Archive 2005-07-01

  • When we thresh our corn, the flail is the final cause of the separation of the grain.

    The Murder Cult

  • To flail is to swing the arms widely or to strike or beat.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • To flail is to swing the arms widely or to strike or beat.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • See, back then, they would use a long, sticklike tool, called a flail to beat the wheat or whatever they were thrashing to crack the hulls and release the grain inside.

    SELLING THE WHEEL

  • See, back then, they would use a long, sticklike tool, called a flail to beat the wheat or whatever they were thrashing to crack the hulls and release the grain inside.

    SELLING THE WHEEL

  • See, back then, they would use a long, sticklike tool, called a flail to beat the wheat or whatever they were thrashing to crack the hulls and release the grain inside.

    SELLING THE WHEEL

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