shil·​le·​lagh shə-ˈlā-lē How to pronounce shillelagh (audio)
variants or less commonly shillalah
: cudgel

Example Sentences

the bartender in the Irish pub keeps a shillelagh behind the bar just in case there's trouble
Recent Examples on the Web The shillelagh, a tall walking stick, was also a protection against large animals. Brenda Yenke, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 Alabama played a competitive first half of its NCAA tournament opener Friday against Notre Dame, but then took a whack from the Fighting Irish’s shillelagh in the second half to end its season with a 78-64 loss. Mike Rodak |, al, 18 Mar. 2022 So in a team meeting, Helton hit all the historical notes, even giving a tutorial on the shillelagh that goes to the winning team. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2019 McConnell is also giving conservatives a shillelagh with which to beat Republican moderates who fail to go along with repeal, and perhaps even to mount primary challenges against them in 2018 or beyond. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, 19 July 2017

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

Word History


Shillelagh, town in Ireland

First Known Use

1772, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shillelagh was in 1772

Dictionary Entries Near shillelagh

Cite this Entry

“Shillelagh.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



shil·​le·​lagh shə-ˈlā-lē How to pronounce shillelagh (audio)
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.