• 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


Examples from the Web for cudgelling

Historical Examples

  • "Sir George is cudgelling his brain to show his gratitude to you," said Power.

    Charles O'Malley, The Irish Dragoon, Volume 1 (of 2)

    Charles Lever

  • He had known all day that something was coming, and had been cudgelling his brains finely.


    John Galsworthy

  • To do it in three casts and cause it stand by dint of cudgelling?

  • After cudgelling my memory for a while I suddenly remembered.

  • Laugh at your own cudgelling when you get it, and don't come here and laugh at mine.

British Dictionary definitions for cudgelling


  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

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 cudgelling



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