flail·​ing | \ ˈflā-liŋ How to pronounce flailing (audio) \

Definition of flailing

1 : moving, swinging, or beating wildly like a flail used especially of a person or a person's limbsThey dragged her toward cabin five, while the other campers made way to avoid her flailing feet.— Rick RiordanVivid dreams made him lash out at me in his sleep with kicks and flailing arms.— Jeremy Clarke… the crowd erupts and the mosh pit pushes flailing bodies towards the stage.— Samantha O'Connor
2a : beset by difficulties : struggling a flailing economy … phoned a friend to vent about his flailing marriage …— Sarah Grossbart
b : clumsy or ineffectual their flailing attempts/efforts to save the company

Other Words from flailing

flailingly adverb
… was walking along the ledge of a precipitous dropoff when he slipped on a mossy rock and fell flailingly into the current … — Jim Mustian

First Known Use of flailing

1882, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of flailing was in 1882

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Cite this Entry

“Flailing.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flailing. Accessed 25 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on flailing

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for flailing

Nglish: Translation of flailing for Spanish Speakers

Comments on flailing

What made you want to look up flailing? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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