I used flay in the following sentence:

I would rather he sprang up in anger, screaming or reproaching me, or even flaying at my festering soul with his fists.

After checking ODO, I found that the primary meaning of flay is "to strip the skin off (a corpse or carcass)". The definition also included, "to whip or beat (someone) so harshly as to remove their skin".

Is saying "flaying at my soul with his fists" idiomatically correct?

2 Answers 2


I think maybe the word you were looking for was flail. From NOAD:

flail (verb) wave or swing or cause to wave or swing wildly : intrans. his arms were flailing helplessly | trans. he flailed his arms and drove her away.


One of the meaning of flay is "criticize severely and brutally." It can be also used figuratively as in the following sentence.

Her dark eyes flayed him.

"flaying at my soul with his fists" is not idiomatic. Probably, "his fists flayed me" would be understood similarly to the example sentence.

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