cudgel

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Related to cudgels: bludgeoning

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 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

take up arms

(slightly formal)
to fight with weapons against an enemy They took up arms only after other means of resolving their differences failed.
See also: arm, take, up

take up the cudgels for somebody/something

  (British & Australian) also take up the cudgels on behalf of somebody/something (British & Australian)
to argue strongly in support of someone or something
Usage notes: A cudgel is a short, heavy stick which is used as a weapon.
Relatives have taken up the cudgels for two British women accused of murder. (British & Australian)
See also: cudgel, 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

To join in a dispute, especially in defense of a participant.
See also: cudgel, take, up
References in classic literature ?
Thou shalt eat sweet venison and quaff the stoutest ale, and mine own good right-hand man shalt thou be, for never did I see such a cudgel player in all my life before.
If ye handle yew bow and apple shaft no better than ye do oaken cudgel, I wot ye are not fit to be called yeomen in my country; but if there be any man here that can shoot a better shaft than I, then will I bethink me of joining with you.
But after my unmannerly use of the cudgel, I fear we are still strangers.
Suddenly I came to myself and, with that strange instinct which seems ever to prompt me to my duty, I seized the cudgel, which had fallen to the floor at the commencement of the battle, and swinging it with all the power of my earthly arms I crashed it full upon the head of the ape, crushing his skull as though it had been an eggshell.
It is true I held the cudgel, but what could I do with it against his four great arms?
He was now too close upon me for the cudgel to prove of any effective assistance, so I merely threw it as heavily as I could at his advancing bulk.
Leaping over his prostrate body, I seized the cudgel and finished the monster before he could regain his feet.
He approached the door, and as he did so a compactly built, grey-faced man in shirt sleeves appeared in it and scrutinised him and his cudgel.
The black man, with the woman's crimson scarf tied round his swarthy head, stood forward in the centre of the path, with a long dull-colored knife in his hand, while the other, waving a ragged cudgel, cursed at Alleyne and dared him to come on.
I kept straight on, with my cudgel ready in my hand, my ears on the alert, and my eyes straining to see through the mist and the darkness.
I got on his back, with my cudgel in my mouth, seized the parapet with both hands, and was instantly on the roof.
When John Willet saw that the horsemen wheeled smartly round, and drew up three abreast in the narrow road, waiting for him and his man to join them, it occurred to him with unusual precipitation that they must be highwaymen; and had Hugh been armed with a blunderbuss, in place of his stout cudgel, he would certainly have ordered him to fire it off at a venture, and would, while the word of command was obeyed, have consulted his own personal safety in immediate flight.
said Hugh, giving his cudgel one of those skilful flourishes, in which the rustic of that time delighted.
So Bob Derbyshire taking up cudgels on behalf of residents of Wedal Road is all about saving money and has nothing to do with concerns for residents about traffic.
But Sir Vincent Fean said a decision was taken by Tony Blair's government "not to take up the cudgels on behalf of the victims directly".