From Middle English kuggel, from Old English cyċġel (“a large stick, cudgel”), from Proto-West Germanic *kuggil, 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- (“to bow, bend, arch, curve”), equivalent to cog + -el (diminutive suffix). Cognate with Middle Dutch coghele (“stick with a rounded end”).
cudgel (plural cudgels)
- A short heavy club with a rounded head used as a weapon.
- The guard hefted his cudgel menacingly and looked at the inmates.
- 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: […] Nath[aniel] Ponder […], →OCLC; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, […], 1928, →OCLC, page 114:
- So when he aroſe, he getteth him a grievous Crab-tree cudgel, and goes down into the Dungeon to them; and there firſt falls to Rateing of them, as if they were dogs: […]
- (figurative) 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:
- 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:
- [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.
- To strike with a cudgel.
- The officer was violently cudgeled down in the midst of the rioters.
- c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii]:
- 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; republished London: Printed for T[homas] Dring, and sold by R. Bentley, and S. Magnes […], 1688, →OCLC, 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: […]
- To exercise (one's wits or brains).