[kuhj-uh l]


a short, thick stick used as a weapon; club.

verb (used with object), cudg·eled, cudg·el·ing, or (especially British) cudg·elled, cudg·el·ling.

to strike with a cudgel; beat.


    cudgel one's brains, to try to comprehend or remember: I cudgeled my brains to recall her name.
    take up the cudgels, to come to the defense or aid of someone or something.

Origin of cudgel

before 900; Middle English cuggel, Old English cycgel; akin to German Kugel ball
Related formscudg·el·er; especially British, cud·gel·ler, nounun·cudg·eled, adjectiveun·cudg·elled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cudgel

Contemporary Examples of cudgel

Historical Examples of cudgel

  • Down went the Dumb man, and away flew his cudgel from his hand as he fell.

  • Hereupon the woman grew angry and struck at him with a cudgel.

  • But cudgel his brain as he would, he could only think of asking: 'Pray, what is your name?'

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • Coupeau had a cudgel, which he called his ass's fan, and he fanned his old woman.


    Emile Zola

  • “If it is to come to fighting,” said Pharaoh, gripping his cudgel.

    In the Days of Drake

    J. S. Fletcher

British Dictionary definitions for cudgel



a short stout stick used as a weapon
take up the cudgels (often foll by for or on behalf of) to join in a dispute, esp to defend oneself or another

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled

(tr) to strike with a cudgel or similar weapon
cudgel one's brains to think hard about a problem
Derived Formscudgeller, noun

Word Origin for cudgel

Old English cycgel; related to Middle Dutch koghele stick with knob
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cudgel

Old English cycgel "club with rounded head;" perhaps from PIE root *geu- "to curve, bend."


"to beat with a cudgel," 1590s, from cudgel (n.). Related: Cudgeled; cudgeling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper