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

  • n. A manual threshing device consisting of a long wooden handle or staff and a shorter, free-swinging stick attached to its end.
  • transitive v. To beat or strike with or as if with a flail: flailed our horses with the reins.
  • transitive v. To wave or swing vigorously; thrash: flailed my arms to get their attention.
  • transitive v. To thresh using a flail.
  • intransitive v. To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about: arms flailing helplessly in the water.
  • intransitive v. To strike or lash out violently: boxers flailing at each other in the ring.
  • intransitive v. To thresh grain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. An ancient military weapon, like the common flail, often having the striking part armed with rows of spikes, or loaded.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To whip; scourge.
  • To strike with or as if with a flail; thresh.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Milit., a similar implement used as a weapon of war in the middle ages.

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

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


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").


  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

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

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  • 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.


  • The scythe, the sickle, and the flail were the same as their forbears had used for centuries.

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  • "flail" - and since coming out last spring via swail. com, it has started climbing the Google search ladder.

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  • I think the responses by the McCain camp highlighted by Eric above are the dictionary definition of "flail" ... and pathetic.

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  • I think the best kind of flail for a beginner is a long cane.

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  • Alongside the reliable, quietly impressive Umar Gul , during the recent series Junaid Khan emerged as a canny, reliable bowler with some Asif-like qualities, while Aizaz Cheema looks lively, and the extraordinary windmilling flail of arms resembling a cartoon fight that constitutes the bowling action of Pakistan's Sohail Tanvir continues to have the occasional capacity to befuddle the best.

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