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 cudgelling (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)

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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 Yet, Democratic women legislators, so quick to use #MeToo as a cudgel on others, are relatively silent. John Kass,, "Column: Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan and Caesar know the political truth: Only the most trusted can betray you.," 27 Nov. 2019 Police freed 14 members of the Ngabé Buglé indigenous group who had been tied up and beaten with wooden cudgels and Bibles. USA TODAY, "'They massacred them." 7 killed, 14 tortured in exorcism ritual in Panama jungle," 17 Jan. 2020 Bully-ball teams use it like a cudgel, threatening any opponent that doesn’t match up accordingly with a painful rebounding margin and bucket after bucket in the paint. Rob Mahoney,, "Top 100 NBA Players of 2020," 12 Sep. 2019 Anything less feels like a defeat at the hands of people who use their power as a cudgel, rather than a great privilege with which to do the most good. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: Re-imagining the Statue of Liberty’s poem, ICE raids, weakened protections for endangered species. Where do we go from here?," 15 Aug. 2019 Trustee Buchanan’s tactic could have come right out of the Trumpian playbook: seize on differences in gender, race and any other characteristics as a cudgel to silence and diminish others and their points of view., "Letter to the Editor: Oak Park trustee’s behavior," 14 Oct. 2019 From one angle, Cardi was just being savvy—discussing a taboo subject on her own terms before others could use it as a cudgel. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "Pardison Fontaine and the Plight of the Ghostwriter," 29 Nov. 2019 In addition to being able to use the horrors of the weather as a cudgel to silence those who oppose Trump’s unethical policies, letting people die from climate change is cost effective. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Eco-Fascists Are Coming," 10 Dec. 2019 High taxes are often cited, particularly by Republicans, as the reason California is a difficult place to put down roots, but the real cudgel is housing costs. Conor Dougherty, New York Times, "Why $4.5 Billion From Big Tech Won’t End California Housing Crisis," 6 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet doing away with the government’s critic-cudgelling arsenal should be a much higher priority. The Economist, "Malaysia’s government should scrap repressive laws while it still can," 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, "Lives Lost for Their Countries," 11 July 2017

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.

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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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Statistics for cudgel

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cudgel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for cudgel


How to pronounce cudgel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cudgel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short heavy club



English Language Learners Definition of cudgel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to hit (someone or something) with a club


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cudgel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cudgel

Spanish Central: Translation of cudgel

Nglish: Translation of cudgel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cudgel for Arabic Speakers

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