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Am I right that the verb 'etriller' [accent on 1st e] means to thrash/beat/trounce someone?

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Yes, in the sense of e.g. "thrashing the enemy", though it's not common, I don't think.
No, it's probably not common... you've probably gathered that most of the language used by the writer I'm working on is pretty unusual! Thanks for the confirmation. 
I’m not good enough in English to know the exact meaning of “trashing the enemy”.
Is it more physical or mental trashing?

I think than nowadays we use (at least me) “Etriller” when the aggression is mental/moral/intellectual.
“Etriller” is closer to “humilier” than to “tabasser”

For example:
Hier il s’est fait étriller au cours du débat télévisé.
Les critiques ont étrillé le livre à sa sortie.
Je me suis fait étriller aux échecs.

Hi, the context for this verb is a bit odd. The French sentence was 'Tu ne depassera point les bornes en etrillant les agents de l'ordre public', and it is taken from a passage in a novel that is parodying a set of totalitarian government rules! My translation at the moment is 'You shall not step out of place by assaulting the Officers of the Law' - so I have taken it to be more physical than mental - but this could be wrong? If it was mental, would 'harassing' be possible do you think?

 

As for the English, there are two verbs, 'thrash' and 'trash'. Neil Coffey used the first, you have mentioned the second. Both are possible but slightly different as 'trash' would be slang, meaning to destroy/mess up/ridicule. Examples: The robbers trashed the place/My boss trashed all my ideas 

 'Thrash someone' is also slang really, but means to 'beat/defeat' - it could imply violence, by beating them up, or it could be figurative, like in your third example 'I was thrashed at chess'. 

 

For the translation of the sentence "Tu ne depassera point les bornes en etrillant les agents de l'ordre public", a word with both meanings (could imply violence vs. could be figurative) is perfect.

But I realized that the true point in using “Etriller” is to imply humiliation and/or powerlessness.

I mean, when you have been “Etrillé”, you can’t be proud of it. You have been defeated in the worst possible way.
Maybe "crush" could work in English? -- it gets the idea of both physical and figurative damage.
That sounds reasonable. Thanks both for all the ideas, this word really stumped me!

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