cud·​gel | \ ˈkə-jəl How to pronounce cudgel (audio) \

Definition of cudgel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short heavy club The eighteenth-century audience went to the theatre armed with whistles, rattles, … and sometimes even wooden cudgels.— Ronald Hayman


cudgeled or cudgelled; cudgeling or cudgelling\ ˈkəj-​liŋ How to pronounce cudgel (audio) , ˈkə-​jə-​ \

Definition of cudgel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to beat with or as if with a cudgel
cudgel one's brains
: to think hard (as for a solution to a problem)

Synonyms for cudgel

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of cudgel in a Sentence

Noun a farmer armed with a cudgel drove us off his land
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Accusations of grooming are being used as a cudgel against those raising questions about such legislation and critics of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to investigate certain gender-affirming care as child abuse. Michael Smolenscolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Apr. 2022 Some Democrats have privately expressed concern that Republicans may use any hike in gas prices as a political cudgel against them ahead of the midterm elections. New York Times, 7 Mar. 2022 López Obrador could also use the results of the vote as a cudgel to prod lawmakers to approve some of the most sweeping legislation of his presidency. Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2022 For years, there have been calls to revise the landmark California Environmental Quality Act to keep it from being used as a legal cudgel to block housing projects. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Mar. 2022 Now, that said, that performance—to be used as a wedge against or as a cudgel against Latino and Black students in New York City—is so deeply racially problematic. Michael Luo, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2022 But with Russian troops massing at Ukraine’s border, Scholz is under enormous pressure from European allies to use the pipeline as a cudgel against Putin. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2021 The Hong Kong authorities have used the law as a cudgel against those participating in protests, political campaigns and expressions of opinion, a dramatic change for a city that has long had some of the strongest protections for speech in Asia. New York Times, 27 July 2021 That mythical time in San Francisco’s past has been celebrated — and used as a cudgel to attack the present — since the Gold Rush. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet doing away with the government’s critic-cudgelling arsenal should be a much higher priority. The Economist, 20 July 2019 In the winter of 1775-76, Dunbar didn’t stand a chance against the 40 patriots in Farmington, Conn., who cudgeled him nearly to death near his home. Caitlin Fitz, WSJ, 11 July 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of cudgel


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


1596, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cudgel

Noun and Verb

Middle English kuggel, from Old English cycgel; perhaps akin to Middle High German kugele ball

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Time Traveler for cudgel

Time Traveler

The first known use of cudgel was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near cudgel



cudgel play

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Statistics for cudgel

Last Updated

5 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cudgel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cudgel


cud·​gel | \ ˈkə-jəl How to pronounce cudgel (audio) \

Kids Definition of cudgel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short heavy club


cudgeled or cudgelled; cudgeling or cudgelling

Kids Definition of cudgel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to beat with or as if with a short heavy club

More from Merriam-Webster on cudgel

Nglish: Translation of cudgel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cudgel for Arabic Speakers


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