Peasants using flails (tool) to thresh cereal.



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


  • To beat using a flail or similar implement.
  • To wave or swing vigorously
  • To thresh.
  • To move like a flail.


Similar words


  • From Middle English flaile, flayle, from earlier fleil, fleyl, fleȝȝl, from Old English fligel, *flegel, from Proto-West Germanic *flagil, from Proto-Germanic *flagilaz, of uncertain origin. Cognate with Scots flail, West Frisian fleil, flaaiel, Dutch vlegel, Low German vlegel, German Flegel. Possibly a native Germanic word from Proto-Germanic *flag-, *flah-, from Proto-Indo-European *pleh₂k-; compare Lithuanian plàkti, Ancient Greek πληγνύναι, Latin plangō + Proto-Germanic *-ilaz; or a borrowing of Latin flagellum, diminutive of flagrum, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlag-, *bʰlaǵ-; compare Old Norse blekkja. Compare also Old French flael, Walloon flayea (locally pronounced "flai"), Italian flagello ("scourge, whip, plague").

Modern English dictionary

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