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

Definition of cajole

transitive verb

1a : to persuade with flattery or gentle urging especially in the face of reluctance : coax had to cajole them into going
b : to obtain from someone by gentle persuasion cajoled money from his parents
2 : to deceive with soothing words or false promises cajoled himself with thoughts of escape— Robertson Davies

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Other Words from cajole

cajolement \ kə-​ˈjōl-​mənt How to pronounce cajole (audio) \ noun
cajoler noun
cajolery \ kə-​ˈjō-​lə-​rē How to pronounce cajole (audio) \ noun

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 In public appearances, Emanuel likes to extemporize, cajole, and find a connection. Connie Bruck, The New Yorker, "Ari Emanuel Takes on the World," 19 Apr. 2021 Your parents or spouse may cajole you to ask for top dollar. Jack Kelly, Forbes, "Here’s How To Succeed In Salary Negotiations When You Receive A Job Offer," 15 Apr. 2021 That proximity allowed Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon and Rutgers’ Geo Baker, who are among the leadership in the name, image and likeness campaign, to corner Virginia Tech’s Wabissa Bede and cajole him into joining their movement. New York Times, "As N.C.A.A. Tournament Ends, So Does Life in Basketball Bubble," 5 Apr. 2021 Teachers have spent hours knocking on doors in their communities and hounding kids over the phone, trying to cajole missing students back into school. Talia Richman, Dallas News, "Some North Texas students and parents facing court for classes missed during the pandemic," 31 Mar. 2021 The left’s efforts to cajole him are sparked by more than frustration, however. The Economist, "Lexington Joe Manchin, the wild man of the mountains," 13 Mar. 2021 His attempts to threaten and cajole his critics have only ended up reinforcing his political problems. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Andrew Cuomo Is Screwed," 1 Mar. 2021 After a lifetime of having coaches cajole him into taking more 3-pointers — only to keep his game anchored inside the arc — even DeRozan had to laugh about how his milestone basket came in a 119-114 victory over his former team. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan re-acquaints himself with 3-point line," 27 Dec. 2020 Some districts with in-person learning started trying to nudge, mandate or cajole those students languishing online back to classrooms. Erin Richards, USA TODAY, "Schools want to end online classes for struggling kids. COVID cases may send everyone home," 14 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cajole.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cajole

1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for cajole

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).

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Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cajole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for cajole



English Language Learners Definition of cajole

: to persuade someone to do something or to give you something by making promises or saying nice things


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

Kids Definition of cajole

: to coax or persuade especially by flattery or false promises She cajoled me into accompanying her.

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