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From Middle English kuggel, from Old English cyċġel (a large stick, cudgel), from Proto-Germanic *kuggilaz (knobbed instrument), derivative of Proto-Germanic *kuggǭ (cog, swelling), from Proto-Indo-European *gewgʰ- (swelling, bow), from Proto-Indo-European *gew-, *gū- (to bow, bend, arch, curve), equivalent to cog +‎ -el (diminutive suffix). Cognate with Middle Dutch coghele (stick with a rounded end).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkʌdʒəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌdʒəl


cudgel (plural cudgels)

  1. A short heavy club with a rounded head used as a weapon.
    The guard hefted his cudgel menacingly and looked at the inmates. The threat to swing glinted in his eye.
    • 1883, Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood Chapter V
      Then they had bouts of wrestling and of cudgel play, so that every day they gained in skill and strength.
    • Bunyan
      He getteth him a grievous crabtree cudgel and [] falls to rating of them as if they were dogs.
  2. (metaphoric) Anything that can be used as a threat to force one's will on another.
    • 2015 April 15, Jonathan Martin, “For a Clinton, It’s Not Hard to Be Humble in an Effort to Regain Power”, in The New York Times[1]:
      Mrs. Clinton’s Senate tenure, however, also demonstrated the risks of overcompensation: Not wanting to give Republicans fodder to portray her as soft on defense, she authorized President Bush to use force in Iraq and handed Mr. Obama a political cudgel to use against her.
    • 2019 July 17, Talia Lavin, “When Non-Jews Wield Anti-Semitism as Political Shield”, in GQ[2]:
      [Minnesota Senator Steve] Daines isn’t the only example of right-wing politicians who wish to wield anti-Semitism as a convenient cudgel against their political enemies, with scant if any evidence. But Montana’s vanishingly small Jewish population makes it particularly clear that this strategy has little to do with flesh-and-blood Jews at all.



cudgel (third-person singular simple present cudgels, present participle (US) cudgeling or (UK) cudgelling, simple past and past participle (US) cudgeled or (UK) cudgelled)

  1. To strike with a cudgel.
    The officer was violently cudgeled down in the midst of the rioters.
    • Shakespeare
      I would cudgel him like a dog if he would say so.
    • 1675, [William] Wycherley, The Country-wife, a Comedy, [], London: Printed for Thomas Dring, [], OCLC 912643989; republished London: Printed for T[homas] Dring, and sold by R. Bentley, and S. Magnes [], 1688, OCLC 7479409, prologue:
      Poets like Cudgel'd Bullys, never do / At firſt, or ſecond blow, ſubmit to you; / But will provoke you ſtill and ne're have done, / Till you are weary ſirst, with laying on: [...]
    • Jack Vance , Dying earth
      Aboard the barge and so off the trail, the blessing lost its puissance and the barge-tender, who coveted Guyal's rich accoutrements, sought to cudgel him with a knoblolly
  2. To exercise (one's wits or brains).

See alsoEdit

  Club (weapon) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia