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

bastinado (or bastinade), bat, baton, billy, billy club, bludgeon, cane, club, nightstick, rod, rung [Scottish], sap, shillelagh (also shillalah), staff, truncheon, waddy [Australian]

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Examples of cudgel in a Sentence


a farmer armed with a cudgel drove us off his land

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Hanabusa used the false alarm as a key campaign cudgel against Ige. Gregg Re, Fox News, "Democratic socialists suffer another loss in Hawaii primary, as Dems notch gains elsewhere," 12 Aug. 2018 This unjust cudgel is an early feature of all totalitarianism wherein individual rights erode for the disfavored while being elevated for the favored. WSJ, "Brett Kavanaugh, Presumption and Fairness," 27 Sep. 2018 And state attorneys general now regularly use them as political cudgels to thwart the implementation of federal policy not just in their respective states, but everywhere. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "When District Judges Try to Run the Country," 17 July 2018 For so many years, shame has been this country’s greatest cudgel against transgender people (and women. Nestor Ramos,, "Transgender question puts bigotry and fear on the ballot," 19 Apr. 2018 For most of its history, diversity training has been pretty much a cudgel, pounding white men into submission with a mix of finger-wagging and guilt-mongering. Joanne Lipman, Time, "How Diversity Training Infuriates Men and Fails Women," 25 Jan. 2018 Or perhaps a politician is simply casting about looking for new cudgels with which to beat Facebook in front of television cameras. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The UK’s inquiry into fake news is focused on a long-dead bikini-finding app," 27 Nov. 2018 Video posted on social media sites showed a mob kicking one of the men in the town square and beating him with cudgels and fists. Fox News, "Mexico mob kills detective, injures 3 others in attack," 28 Sep. 2018 So far, the Treasury has mostly used that cudgel against small lenders, including a now-liquidating Latvian bank accused of handling billions of dollars for Russian arms traders and North Korea’s missile program. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "U.S. Probes Danske Bank Over Russian Money Laundering Allegations," 14 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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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Dictionary Entries near cudgel





cudgel play



Statistics for cudgel

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cudgel

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

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More Definitions for cudgel



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

Comments on cudgel

What made you want to look up cudgel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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