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flail (verb) thresh grain; move arms and legs without control; hit violently with a stick.
Threshing grain by using a flail, to separate the grain from the chaff, is to flail. When grain is flailed, it is threshed with the flail. When a person flails they wave or swing their arms and legs violently and without control. Persons who are hit suddenly or when they writhe in pain, they flail, that is, they swing their arms and legs without control. To flail is also to hit a person violently, especially with a stick.
- The boy found himself in waters deeper than he had expected, and as he was getting drowned flailed his arms above water in an attempt to save himself.
- Holding his stick and running around, the madman flailed everyone around until the police brought him down.