cudgel

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Related to cudgelled: cudgelled brain, 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 the cudgels (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, take, up

take up the cudgels (for 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 for 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: 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

or

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 classic literature ?
Not to remember it; but Mac and Steve have, and liked it immensely," answered Archie, thereby causing the two mentioned to neglect Debby's delectable fritters for several minutes, while they cudgelled their brains.
This tale was originally fabricated as a means of annoyance against one who hurt your trade and half cudgelled you to death, and to enable you to obtain repossession of a half-dead drudge, whom you wished to regain, because, while you wreaked your vengeance on him for his share in the business, you knew that the knowledge that he was again in your power would be the best punishment you could inflict upon your enemy.