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[fleyl] /fleɪl/
an instrument for threshing grain, consisting of a staff or handle to one end of which is attached a freely swinging stick or bar.
a similar instrument used as a weapon of war.
verb (used with or without object)
to beat or swing with or as if with a flail.
Origin of flail
before 1100; Middle English fleil (noun), Old English flighel (probably misspelling of *flegil), cognate with Dutch vlegel, German Flegel < West Germanic *flagil- < Late Latin flagellum flail, Latin: whip, scourge. See flagellum Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for flailed
Historical Examples
  • His head broke the surface, and he flailed the water in an effort to keep his nose in air.

    The Players Everett B. Cole
  • He flailed the air frantically, and managed to regain his balance.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Braced on his strong, short legs Gunnar flailed them like wheat.

    Hunters Out of Space Joseph Everidge Kelleam
  • Then he had them beaten, flailed, until the fibres were all separated one from another.

    Picturesque Pala

    George Wharton James
  • As the others rushed in, Gavir flailed about him with long arms and heavy fists.

    Star Performer Robert J. Shea
  • The icy paralysis left his arms and legs; he kicked and flailed.

    The Fourth R George Oliver Smith
  • He neither stamped his feet nor flailed his arms about to drive off the cold.

    The Real Adventure

    Henry Kitchell Webster
  • The tail revolved for a third time, and with the energy of despair he flailed the ground with it.

  • As the fragrance—close and powerful now—died away, he flailed with one arm at a two-foot bat which flapped close to his head.

  • Rick flailed arms and legs, trying to break free of the grip that held him.

    The Wailing Octopus Harold Leland Goodwin
British Dictionary definitions for flailed


an implement used for threshing grain, consisting of a wooden handle with a free-swinging metal or wooden bar attached to it
a weapon so shaped used in the Middle Ages
(transitive) to beat or thrash with or as if with a flail
to move or be moved like a flail; thresh about: with arms flailing
Word Origin
C12 fleil, ultimately from Late Latin flagellum flail, from Latin: whip
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for flailed



15c., from flail (n.); originally "to scourge;" sense of "to move like a flail" is from 1874. Related: Flailed; flailing.



"implement for threshing grain," c.1100, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *flegel, which probably represents West Germanic *flagil (cf. Middle Dutch and Low German vlegel, Old High German flegel, German flegel), a borrowing of Late Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," from Latin flagellum "whip" (see flagellum).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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flailed in Medicine

flail (flāl)
v. flailed, flail·ing, flails

  1. To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about.

  2. To strike or lash out violently.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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