ca·​jole kə-ˈjōl How to pronounce cajole (audio)
cajoled; cajoling

transitive verb

: to persuade with flattery or gentle urging especially in the face of reluctance : coax
had to cajole them into going
: to obtain from someone by gentle persuasion
cajoled money from his parents
: to deceive with soothing words or false promises
cajoled himself with thoughts of escapeRobertson Davies
cajolement noun
cajoler noun
cajolery noun

Did you know?

However hard we try, we can’t cajole the full history of cajole from the cages of obscurity. We know that it comes from French cajoler, meaning "to give much attention to; to make a fuss over; to flatter or persuade with flattery"—no surprise there. But the next chapter of the word’s history may, or may not, be for the birds: it’s possible that cajoler is descended from a word that is cage-bound twice over. One potential ancestor both comes from a word meaning "birdcage" and was formed under the influence of the Anglo-French word cage, whence also comes our word cage. The ancestor of our word jail is in this lineage as well.

Choose the Right Synonym for cajole

cajole, coax, soft-soap, blandish, wheedle mean to influence or persuade by pleasing words or actions.

cajole suggests the deliberate use of flattery to persuade in the face of reluctance or reasonable objections.

cajoled him into cheating on the final exam

coax implies gentle and persistent words or actions employed to produce a desired effect.

coaxed the cat out of the tree

soft-soap refers to using smooth and somewhat insincere talk usually for personal gain.

politicians soft-soaping eligible voters

blandish implies a more open desire to win a person over by effusive praise and affectionate actions.

legislators blandished with promises of support

wheedle suggests more strongly than cajole the use of seductive appeal or artful words in persuading.

hucksters wheedling her life's savings out of her

Examples of cajole in a Sentence

cajoled her into doing his laundry for him
Recent Examples on the Web One by one they are cajoled into participating, their unexpectedly lovely, untrained voices elevating the dingy surroundings. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 18 May 2024 After some amount of cajoling, Gubser finally showed up to meet him at the South End Rowing Club, the famed open-water swim club in San Francisco just across the bay from Alcatraz. Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 Despite that, some states still need to be cajoled into committing to rail investments. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 6 May 2024 Image Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu has for years presented himself to Israelis as the only politician with the experience and smarts to both stand up to Iran and cajole other countries into doing so, too. Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, 20 Apr. 2024 Instead of cajoling faculty to explore, adopt, and conform curricula to OERs, colleges spent a lost decade on Inclusive Access. Ryan Craig, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Corrupt local officials, clueless charity bosses, the daily grind of cajoling poor people to try something new without pissing them off. Leif Wenar, WIRED, 27 Mar. 2024 Adults smoke cigarettes, and Mahito steals cigarettes to cajole them into doing favors for him. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2023 The dark, subversive antihero saga begins as Tom is enlisted by Dickie’s father , who mistakenly assumes Tom is a friend of his son , to venture to Italy to cajole him into returning home. Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cajole.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French cajoler "to give much attention to, make a fuss over, flatter, persuade with flattery," going back to Middle French cajoller "to flatter out of self-interest," perhaps the same verb as Middle French cageoller "to vocalize, sing (of a jay or other bird)," expressive formation of uncertain origin

Note: Middle French cageoller was explained by Wartburg, et al., Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, as a permutation, under the influence of cage cage entry 1, of gaioler "to chatter, cackle (of birds)," a derivative of Picard gaiole "birdcage," corresponding to Old French geole, jaole "cage, prison" (see jail entry 1). According to Dubois-Mitterand-Dauzat, Dictionaire étymologique et historique du français (Larousse, 1993, continuing the etymology from earlier editons of Dauzat), the meaning "to flatter" is due to association of cageoller with enjôler "to captivate by flattery" (Old French enjaoiler "to imprison"). Alternatively, the two formations ("to sing, vocalize" and "to flatter") have been regarded as of independent origin; the first may either be an onomatopoeic outgrowth of cacarder "to honk (of a goose)," or a rearrangement of *jacoler, based on jacques, a dialectal name for a jay; the second is conjecturally a merger of enjôler and caresser "to stroke, caress entry 1" (thus E. Gamillscheg, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der französischen Sprache, 2. Auflage, Winter, 1969).

First Known Use

1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of cajole was in 1630


Dictionary Entries Near cajole

Cite this Entry

“Cajole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ca·​jole kə-ˈjōl How to pronounce cajole (audio)
cajoled; cajoling
: to coax or persuade especially by flattery or false promises : wheedle
cajolery noun

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