To flagellate is to hit or beat, especially with a whip. These days, in most parts of the world, people rarely flagellate others as a punishment.

While the verb flagellate can be used for any variety of whipping or beating, it often means a kind of religious self-punishment. This practice, while not common today, exists among some groups of Catholics who hit their own shoulders and backs as part of religious discipline. Flagellate comes from the noun flagellum, "a slender, thread-like structure," or in Latin, "whip."

Definitions of flagellate
  1. verb
    “The religious fanatics flagellated themselves”
    synonyms: scourge
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    type of:
    flog, lash, lather, slash, strap, trounce, welt, whip
    beat severely with a whip or rod
  2. adjective
    having or resembling a lash or whip (as does a flagellum)
  3. noun
    a usually nonphotosynthetic free-living protozoan with whiplike appendages; some are pathogens of humans and other animals
    synonyms: flagellate protozoan, flagellated protozoan, mastigophoran, mastigophore
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    chiefly marine protozoa having two flagella; a chief constituent of plankton
    Leishmania, genus Leishmania
    flagellate protozoan that causes leishmaniasis
    zooflagellate, zoomastigote
    flagellate protozoan lacking photosynthesis and other plant-like characteristics
    flagellate symbiotic in the intestines of e.g. termites
    flagellates with several flagella
    Costia necatrix, costia
    a flagellate that is the cause of the frequently fatal fish disease costiasis
    a suspected cause of diarrhea in humans
    cause of trichomoniasis in women and cattle and birds
    Noctiluca miliaris, noctiluca
    large bioluminescent marine protozoan
    flagellate with a thick test composed of plates
    type of:
    protozoan, protozoon
    any of diverse minute acellular or unicellular organisms usually nonphotosynthetic
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