• WordNet 3.6
    • v flail give a thrashing to; beat hard
    • v flail move like a flail; thresh about "Her arms were flailing"
    • n flail an implement consisting of handle with a free swinging stick at the end; used in manual threshing
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Flail An ancient military weapon, like the common flail, often having the striking part armed with rows of spikes, or loaded. "No citizen thought himself safe unless he carried under his coat a small flail , loaded with lead, to brain the Popish assassins."
    • Flail 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. "His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n flail 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 flail Milit., a similar implement used as a weapon of war in the middle ages. In this weapon the swingle or swiple was sometimes a ball set with long spikes, and sometimes a pear-shaped or still more elongated body spiked in like manner (in these forms called morning-star: see cut under morning-star); the middle band was a chain; and the hand-staff was of metal in the smaller single-handed flails, or of wood with long tangs and ferrules of metal in the larger forms.
    • flail To whip; scourge.
    • flail To strike with or as if with a flail; thresh.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Flail flāl an implement for threshing corn, consisting of a wooden bar (the swingle) hinged or tied to a handle: a medieval weapon with spiked iron swingle
    • v.t Flail to strike with, or as if with, a flail
    • ***


  • Eric Hoffer
    “Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one's balance and keep afloat.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. flagellum, whip, scourge, in LL., a threshing flail: cf. OF. flael, flaiel, F. fléau,. See Flagellum


In literature:

He flailed his arm twice, and felt his fist strike against soft flesh.
"Fire Mountain" by Norman Springer
Out came that cross of his, four foot and a half long, with a thong as heavy as a flail.
"The Landleaguers" by Anthony Trollope
The ship stops, and to the perpetual flailing of the paddles succeeds the hissing sound of the escaping steam.
"Records of Later Life" by Frances Ann Kemble
I will neither be blown away by the wind nor burst with the flail, but will abide both.
"Ringan Gilhaize" by John Galt
Talbott gagged and flailed helplessly.
"Before Egypt" by E. K. Jarvis
The next instant he had plunged into the tons of snow and his arms were working like flails as he threw the masses aside.
"The Rushton Boys at Rally Hall" by Spencer Davenport
Seed is easily separated by a common flail.
"Soil Culture" by J. H. Walden
He nodded, then turned and swam away, flippers flailing as though trying to hurry.
"The Wailing Octopus" by Harold Leland Goodwin
He lost balance and his arms flailed to regain his footing, too late!
"The Blue Ghost Mystery" by Harold Leland Goodwin
The man flew backward, arms flailing, and landed on top of one who was grappling with Hassan.
"The Egyptian Cat Mystery" by Harold Leland Goodwin

In poetry:

"And further on the wind's low wail
Proclaims my reign along the dale,
Till the tired harvester drops his flail
And hails me queen of the flowers."
"The Golden Rod" by Samuel Alfred Beadle
No flail beats time on granary floor,
The windmill's rushing wings are stayed,
And children's glee rings out no more
From hedgerow bank or primrose glade.
"The Door Of Humility" by Alfred Austin
Well, enough of slump, enough of Old Story.
Like a clean spear of fire I am moving.
I am not still. I am ready to be ready.
I shall flail in the Hot Time.
"The Near-Johannesburg Boy" by Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks
`And when Autumn's flail on the granary floor
Falls muffled by mellow sheaves,
Old elm, you will mirror yourself no more
In the lake of your littered leaves.'
"The Fallen Elm" by Alfred Austin
Stitch them, Sails; aye, sew them tight
For the mad squall blowing in the maniac night;
Sew them to stand the beat of hail,
The lash of rain and the hurricane's flail.
"Sailmaker" by Bill Adams
On him alone was the doom of pain,
From the morning of his birth;
On him alone the curse of Cain
Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain,
And struck him to the earth!
"The Slave In The Dismal Swamp" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In news:

Apparent support is in sharp contrast to recent months, when the Islamist group seemed to be flailing and riven by division.
A " crazed " homeless man who has been living among the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City's Zuccotti Park went on a violent rampage Thursday, flailing, kicking tents, and yelling incoherently, according to a published report.
It's bad enough you're a 160 pound pussy biker, but now you're flailing around like a bigger pussy crying because you lost.
Flailing Honduras in yet another political crisis .
Is Mexico's youth opposition stuck with a flailing leader.
Government lawyers failed to learn that industries undergoing massive change brought on by technology are likelier to be flailing for sustainable business models than flouting market power to fix prices.
The film is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations and for being a flailing excuse for anything.
Newt's Flailing (Don't Tell Callista Gingrich's Favorite Hairspray Maker).
West Virginia's football team found unique new ways to recharge a flailing offense Saturday night.
Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm?-Flailing Tube Man.
Say it three times really fast: wacky wavy inflatable arm flailing tube man.
As malaise spreads, Hollande flails: 'I'll tax more and spend more'.
With his campaign flailing, Romney throws in the kitchen sink .
Oliver Perez decided to stay with the team that helped resurrect his flailing career.
Flail mower demonstration Oct 10 at CooperRiis.