• synonyms


or shil·la·la, shil·la·lah, shil·le·lah

[shuh-ley-lee, -luh]
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noun (esp. in Ireland)
  1. a cudgel, traditionally of blackthorn or oak.
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Origin of shillelagh

First recorded in 1670–80, shillelagh is from the Irish word Síol Éiligh town in Co. Wicklow; the adjoining forest provided wood for the clubs
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shillelagh

cane, crutch, business, staff, truncheon, nightstick, sap, cudgel, works, bludgeon, baton, mace, blackjack, hammer, quarterstaff, hickory, mallet, shillelagh, billy, swatter

Examples from the Web for shillelagh

Historical Examples of shillelagh

  • His bludgeon, or—considering his present connection—may we say his shillelagh?

    Punch, or the London Charavari, Volume 93, October 8, 1887


  • At last a ruffian with his shillelagh struck Barney over the thigh.

    The Landleaguers

    Anthony Trollope

  • When the shillelagh was ready, other preparations were quickly completed.

  • The best material in Ireland was found in the woods that surround the ancient little village of Shillelagh—hence the name.

    One Irish Summer

    William Eleroy Curtis

  • Yet how mountaineer without ballads any more than without a shillelagh?

British Dictionary definitions for shillelagh



  1. (in Ireland) a stout club or cudgel, esp one made of oak or blackthorn
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Word Origin for shillelagh

C18: from Irish Gaelic sail cudgel + éille leash, thong
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 shillelagh


"cudgel," 1772, earlier, "oak wood used to make cudgels" (1670s), from Shillelagh, town and barony, famous for its oaks, in County Wicklow, Ireland. The name is literally "seeds (or descendants) of Elach, from Irish siol "seed."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper