What word or phrase does your mother always say?
"implement for threshing grain," c.1100, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *flegel, which probably represents West Germanic *flagil (cf. Middle Dutch and Low German vlegel, Old High German flegel, German flegel), a borrowing of Late Latin flagellum "winnowing tool, flail," from Latin flagellum "whip" (see flagellum).
15c., from flail (n.); originally "to scourge;" sense of "to move like a flail" is from 1874. Related: Flailed; flailing.
v. flailed, flail·ing, flails
To move vigorously or erratically; thrash about.
To strike or lash out violently.