1

Which word or phrase could be used in these sentences?

Look at that cockroach helplessly _______ to flip itself back onto its legs.

Or

The battle is over. The deer cannot escape the lion’s jaws anymore, yet it still ______.

The word needs not imply inevitable death, but it should describe a doomed struggle to help or save itself, and how strenuous and arduous this struggle is.

  • The title of this question is quite incomprehensible. What were you trying to say? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 6 '17 at 18:26
  • I just fix it. Is it better? – Ooker Jun 6 '17 at 18:27
  • I think I understand what you mean now. I’ve edited both the title and the question according to how I understand it; please feel free to change it if I’ve misunderstood. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 6 '17 at 18:33
  • Thank you. In your edit, is "a doomed struggle" a complete noun phrase? Or should struggle be understood as the verb of a doomed (one)? – Ooker Jun 7 '17 at 6:55
  • It's a noun phrase. It is the struggle that is doomed (to fail). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 7 '17 at 8:33
4

The word that immediately comes to my mind is flail.

: to move, swing, or beat like a flail arms flailing in the water

This is a word that refers more to the movement of the object, rather than its goal, but I think is very appropriate for the sentences you give.

Look at how that cockroach helplessly flails (in an attempt) to flip itself

The battle has come to the end. The deer obviously cannot escape the lion's jaw anymore, yet it still flails.

5

Another choice is thrash. Collins dictionary meaning #3:

[To] move in a wild or violent way, often hitting against something. You can also say that someone's arms or legs thrash about.

  • Many of the crew died a terrible death as they thrashed about in shark-infested waters.

  • ...dreams so vivid that I thrash inside my sleeping bag and cry out.

  • Jimmy collapsed on the floor, thrashing his legs about like an injured racehorse.

  • Does thrash have an connotation of hitting something? – Ooker Jun 7 '17 at 6:52
  • @Ooker One of the meanings of thrash is to beat but it doesn't necessarily mean that. In the examples given above there's no connotation of hitting. – Al Maki Jun 7 '17 at 14:45
3

Toil comes to mind:

Toil (verb)

1 Work extremely hard or incessantly.
‘we toiled away’
(with infinitive)
‘Richard toiled to build his editorial team’

1.1 (with adverbial of direction) Move slowly and with difficulty.
‘she began to toil up the cliff path’

However, I'm finding it hard to think of a single word that fits in both your example sentences. In both cases, you have already adequately described the hopelessness of the situation ("helplessly"/"obviously cannot escape"); so it seems redundant to again stress the helplessness by your choice of verb.

I would have used the following:

Look at how that cockroach helplessly trying to flip itself

The battle has come to the end. The deer obviously cannot escape the lion's jaw anymore, yet it still tries/puts up a fight.

1

The word that jumps out to me is tries:

try

VERB

  1. [no object] Make an attempt or effort to do something.
    [with infinitive] ‘he tried to regain his breath’
    ‘I started to try and untangle the mystery’
    ‘I decided to try writing fiction’
    [with object] ‘three times he tried the manoeuvre and three times he failed’

So your example sentences would be:

Look at how that cockroach helplessly tries to flip itself

and

The battle has come to the end. The deer obviously cannot escape the lion's jaw anymore, yet it still tries.

Alternately, as suggested in your question, you could use struggles:

struggle

VERB

[NO OBJECT]

  1. Make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.
    ‘before she could struggle, he lifted her up’ [with infinitive] ‘he struggled to break free’

so your sentences would be:

Look at how that cockroach helplessly struggles to flip itself

and

The battle has come to the end. The deer obviously cannot escape the lion's jaw anymore, yet it still struggles.

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