- 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.
- 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
- (tr) to beat or thrash with or as if with a flail
- to move or be moved like a flail; thresh aboutwith arms flailing
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).
- To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about.
- To strike or lash out violently.