(1)   An implement consisting of handle with a free swinging stick at the end; used in manual threshing


(2)   Give a thrashing to; beat hard
(3)   Move like a flail; thresh about
"Her arms were flailing"


  1. 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.
  2. A weapon which has the (usually spherical) striking part attached to the handle with a flexible joint such as a chain.

  • 1631John Milton, L'Allegro
    When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
    That ten day-labourers could not end;
  • 1816Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail
  • 1842Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Slave in the Dismal Swamp
    On him alone the curse of Cain
    Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain,
    And struck him to the earth!
  • 1879Henry George, Progress and Poverty, ch V
    If the farmer must use the spade because he has not capital enough for a plough, the sickle instead of the reaping machine, the flail instead of the thresher...


  1. To beat using a flail or similar.
  2. To wave or swing vigorously (syn. thrash).
  3. To thresh.


  • 1937H. P. Lovecraft, The Evil Clergyman
    He stopped in his tracks – then, flailing his arms wildly in the air, began to stagger backwards.