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cudgel (one's) brains

To try very hard to comprehend, solve, think of, or remember something. I was up all night cudgeling my brains for a way to pay off all my debts. She cudgeled her brains to remember the man's name.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up the cudgels (for/on behalf of someone or something)

To defend, show strong support for, or argue on behalf of someone or something. People from across the country are taking up cudgels on behalf of the young man being held by police. He's got plenty of money to hire a proper legal team. I don't think he needs the likes of us taking up the cudgels.
See also: behalf, cudgel, of, on, someone, take, up

take up (the) cudgels against (someone or something)

To prepare for or engage in a conflict against someone or something. May or may not refer to literally arming oneself. People from across the country are taking up the cudgels against the dictatorship. We have to be willing to take up the cudgels if we ever want to loosen the grip of these greedy corporations.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up arms (against someone or something)

to prepare to fight against someone or something. Everyone in the town took up arms against the enemy. They were all so angry that the leader convinced them to take up arms.
See also: arm, take, up

rack one's brain

Also, cudgel one's brains. Strain to remember or find a solution, as in I've been racking my brain trying to recall where we put the key, or He's been cudgeling his brains all day over this problem. The first term, first recorded in 1583 as rack one's wit, alludes to the rack that is an instrument of torture, on which the victim's body was stretched until the joints were broken. The variant, from the same period, uses cudgel in the sense of "beat with a cudgel" (a short thick stick). Shakespeare used it in Hamlet (5:1): "Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not bend his pace with beating." Also see beat one's brains out.
See also: brain, rack

take up arms

Also, take up the cudgels. Become involved in a conflict, either physical or verbal, as in The Kurds took up arms against the Iranians at least two centuries ago, or Some believe it's the vice-president's job to take up the cudgels for the president. The first term originated in the 1400s in the sense of going to war. The variant, alluding to cudgels as weapons, has been used figuratively since the mid-1600s and is probably obsolescent.
See also: arm, take, up

take up the cudgels


take up the cudgel

If you take up the cudgels for someone or take up the cudgel for them, you speak or fight in support of them. The trade unions took up the cudgels for the 367 staff who were made redundant. We are hoping that the government will take up the cudgel on our behalf. Note: A cudgel was a short, thick stick that was used as a weapon in the past.
See also: cudgel, take, up

cudgel your brain (or brains)

think hard about a problem.
This expression was used by Shakespeare in Hamlet: ‘Cudgel thy brains no more about it’.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up the cudgels

start to support someone or something strongly.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up the ˈcudgels for somebody/something


take up the cudgels on behalf of somebody/something

(old-fashioned, written) start to defend or support somebody/something: The local newspapers have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the woman who was unfairly dismissed from her job because she was pregnant.
A cudgel is a short thick stick that is used as a weapon.

take up the cudgels

To join in a dispute, especially in defense of a participant.
See also: cudgel, take, up
References in periodicals archive ?
If they don't take up the cudgel on this issue, they are either trying to loose the election or they are out of touch with reality.
I am a Caerphilly County Borough member on the Valleys Race Equality Council and I am extremely grateful that this body has picked up the cudgel on behalf of the minorities and given them legal representation.
ALLAN Sartori, the proprietor of Broad Street's Rocket Club, is the hapless victim of that old fashioned cudgel, the poison pen letter.
So when we exchanged pleasantries this week Ken took up the cudgel on behalf of the enthusiastic amateur.
The woman appeared to be aged about 20 and had suffered terrible injuries to the head, perhaps inflicted by a cudgel.
With Michael Ancram gone Ronnie is just the cat to take up his cudgel.
But with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and increasing desperation, even in university humanities departments, among leftists hoping to sketch a socialism with a human face, Barber's brand of progressive politics is attracting favorable notice from those in need of a new cudgel with which to pummel free markets and globalization.
Once he's left Atlanta and headed for Charleston, Naipaul drops his cudgel and allows himself to be romanced by the "order and faith, music and melancholy" of the remnants of plantation culture.
Let's hope our political leaders will take up the cudgel and we can move towards resolving this very messy situation before the next election.
For a global figure like Michael Johnson to take up the cudgel on behalf of a soccer player is in itself hugely eye-opening.
I HAVE taken up the cudgel against the appalling language on television and the attitude of the Broadcasting Standards Council.
Further more, as the sands under New Labour begin to sink, we are told that it is time for the founders of the Millennium Dome to come home to the ragged trousered philanthropists and again to pick up the cudgel up of 'real' politics and to come together to keep out the crazy Tories.
Mic Cheetham said: "There are a few other well-known Iain Bankses, such as a glamour photographer, and if mine doesn't take a cudgel to this Hogarth chap, I can't say if some of them will be so kind.
How can the same politicians who refuse to reform the nefarious activities of lobbyists dare to pick up the cudgel of spending limits against independent outsiders?
I wonder whether somewhere on Teesside we have a solicitor who, on a no-win-no-fee basis of course, would take up the cudgel on behalf of we loyal Boro supporters.