implement for threshing grain, c. 1100, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *flegel, which, if it existed, probably is from West Germanic *flagil (source also of Middle Dutch and Low German vlegel, Old High German flegel, German flegel), a West Germanic borrowing of Late Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," in classical Latin "a whip" (see flagellum).
mid-15c., "to whip, scourge," from flail (n.). Sense of "to move like a flail" is from 1873. Related: Flailed; flailing.
updated on November 30, 2014