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flail about

To move one's body, often the limbs, in an erratic or clumsy way. The last time I tried ice skating, I spent most of the time flailing about and trying desperately not to fall.
See also: flail

flail around

To move one's body, often the limbs, in an erratic or clumsy way The last time I tried ice skating, I spent most of the time flailing around and trying desperately not to fall.
See also: around, flail
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

flail about

or flail around
To engage in rapid, frantic, undirected movements or activity: The baby cried and flailed about as we looked for the bottle. After I caught the fish, it flailed around in the bottom of the boat.
See also: flail
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"But you would be amazed by how many people want 'tidy' hedges, even if they involve flailing, " adds Sue, incredulously.
Town had just drawn level thanks to John McCombe when Sodje forced his way in front of Keigan Parker with the help of a flailing elbow which was spotted by referee Nigel Miller standing only a few yards away.
For all their evident flailing, the bodies often seemed inert somehow, struggling within their own kinespheres but not getting anywhere.
Presented in the gallery here were something like fragments of "industrial painting": canvases covered with pigment, lampblack, and crusts of plastic resin; shapes suggesting crystals or elementary organisms flailing around in a vain effort to break free of the primal ooze and form more complex and stable systems.
Broad smiles and mumbles of "Thank you" take the place of flailing arms as these two unknown performers from New York experience the first tremors of fame.
If you don't have the structure of a target you're aiming to block, you end up flailing around."
JULIE McGuigan, from research firm Martin Hamblin GfK, writes: "Thank you for drawing attention to our press release entitled 'Our country's education is flailing, say British people.' This was an intentional pun on the word 'failing' and not a spelling mistake.
A talk show featuring a Sabrina, the Teenage Witch star may take over for the flailing Dr.
The interlude sets the flailing and strutting of the rest of the work into nostalgic relief.
Hysterical Attack (Eyes), 2000, consists of a pair of splayed, flailing legs-cum-tentacles attached to the back of a rudimentary bentwood chair.
Like tiny submarines, some bacteria move by spinning their tails rather than flailing them about like whips.
The same was true of his video Apocalypse Now, 1996, in which he was seen spinning around and flailing his arms above his head to the point of exhaustion in order to reproduce the visual dynamic of helicopters in a famous scene from Francis Ford Coppola's film.
Humors contrasted athletic and flailing movements as embodied by two different dancers while Takademe was a straightforward translation of Sheila Chandra's fulminating rhythms.
Jason takes up the story: "My character gets strangled, so there I am in front of these blokes, clutching at my throat, flailing my arms about and gasping for air in a really dramatic way.
In the game a character named Tree Hugger is depicted as a lavender-clad sprite who prances through the forest flailing his hands and pointing out rainbows.