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 Over more than two decades in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to maintain his country’s great power status by keeping a tight grip on Moscow’s former Soviet states, cajoling and threatening them with Russia’s military capabilities across Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Matthew Luxmoore, WSJ, 22 Sep. 2023 Goldman’s fresh effort shows that more than three years after the pandemic sent much of the industry home, even the firms most eager to refill their towers are having to cajole workers to resume their old ways. Sridhar Natarajan, Fortune, 22 Aug. 2023 Individuals who may have been inclined to just see one of the two films may have been cajoled into watching the second by friends, family, or partners who wanted to participate in the double feature. Time, 25 July 2023 Last year, the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana sued the Biden administration in U.S. District Court in Louisiana, arguing that government officials effectively cajoled or coerced Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms by threatening legislative changes. Sheera Frenkel, New York Times, 19 June 2023 Over the ensuing months, as ProPublica outlined, Albright used an artful combination of cajoling, argument and legal threat. Cezary Podkul, ProPublica, 15 Aug. 2023 For decades, the compound has drawn alternative-building pilgrims, whom Mr. Kelley would often cajole into work duty. Penelope Green,, 31 July 2023 Even Barb, who had been cajoling the others to get tested, could not bring herself to do so. Robert Kolker, New York Times, 20 July 2023 For example, the United States has cajoled many countries into pushing back against Chinese influence, shrinking their freedom of action. Matias Spektor, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

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 4 Oct. 2023.

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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