[flaj-uh-luh nt, fluh-jel-uh nt]


a person who flagellates or scourges himself or herself for religious discipline.
a person who derives sexual pleasure from whipping or being whipped by another person.
(often initial capital letter) one of a medieval European sect of fanatics who practiced scourging in public.


severely criticizing: a flagellant attack on the opposition party.

Origin of flagellant

1555–65; < Latin flagellant- (stem of flagellāns) whipping, present participle of flagellāre. See flagellum, -ant
Related formsflag·el·lant·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for flagellants

Historical Examples of flagellants

  • "These are the Beating Friars, otherwise called the Flagellants," quoth he.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • And the Flagellants and the Penitenti—have even their ghosts departed?

    The Story of Perugia

    Margaret Symonds

  • The proceedings of the Flagellants in all countries were very similar.

    Religion &amp; Sex

    Chapman Cohen

  • This practice soon became a regular craze and was taken up later by the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Flagellants.

    The Rise of the Mediaeval Church

    Alexander Clarence Flick

  • Every country had its wandering hordes of flagellants and penitents, its crusaders and its pilgrims.

British Dictionary definitions for flagellants


flagellator (ˈflædʒɪˌleɪtə)


a person who whips himself or others either as part of a religious penance or for sexual gratification
(often capital) (in medieval Europe) a member of a religious sect who whipped themselves in public
Derived Formsflagellantism, noun

Word Origin for flagellant

C16: from Latin flagellāre to whip, from flagellum
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

Word Origin and History for flagellants



late 16c., from Latin flagellantem (nominative flagellans), present participle of flagellare "to scourge, lash" (see flagellum).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper