• synonyms


[kuhj-uh l]
See more synonyms for cudgel on Thesaurus.com
  1. a short, thick stick used as a weapon; club.
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verb (used with object), cudg·eled, cudg·el·ing, or (especially British) cudg·elled, cudg·el·ling.
  1. to strike with a cudgel; beat.
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  1. cudgel one's brains, to try to comprehend or remember: I cudgeled my brains to recall her name.
  2. take up the cudgels, to come to the defense or aid of someone or something.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cudgel

truncheon, nightstick, mace, bat, cane, club, rod, bludgeon, switch, stick, paddle, sap, blackjack, bastinado, ferule, shillelagh, cosh, billy, birch, shill

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


  1. a short stout stick used as a weapon
  2. take up the cudgels (often foll by for or on behalf of) to join in a dispute, esp to defend oneself or another
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verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. (tr) to strike with a cudgel or similar weapon
  2. cudgel one's brains to think hard about a problem
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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."

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper