cudgel one's brains


a short, thick stick used as a weapon; club.
verb (used with object), cudgeled, cudgeling or (especially British) cudgelled, cudgelling.
to strike with a cudgel; beat.
cudgel one's brains, to try to comprehend or remember: I cudgeled my brains to recall her name.
take up the cudgels, to come to the defense or aid of someone or something.

before 900; Middle English cuggel, Old English cycgel; akin to German Kugel ball

cudgeler; especially British, cudgeller, noun
uncudgeled, adjective
uncudgelled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cudgel (ˈkʌdʒəl)
n (often foll by for or on behalf of)
1.  a short stout stick used as a weapon
2.  take up the cudgels to join in a dispute, esp to defend oneself or another
vb , -els, -elling, -elled, -els, -eling, -eled
3.  (tr) to strike with a cudgel or similar weapon
4.  cudgel one's brains to think hard about a problem
[Old English cycgel; related to Middle Dutch koghele stick with knob]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cycgel "club with rounded head;" not known in other Gmc. languages; perhaps from PIE base *geu- "to curve, bend." The verb is from 1596.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

cudgel one's brains

see rack one's brains.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Idioms & Phrases
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