Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Cajole

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is cajole. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Cajole usually means “to persuade someone to do something or to give you something by making promises or saying nice things.” It can also mean “to deceive with soothing words or false promises.”

// She cajoled her partner into going to the party with her.

// They hoped to cajole him into cooperating.

CAJOLE in Context

“Park operators can direct traffic using the app by notifying visitors where the shortest lines are and offering food and merchandise promotions to cajole them to other areas.” — Robbie Whelan, The Wall Street Journal, 27 Aug. 2022

Did You Know?

However hard we try, we can’t cajole the full history of cajole from the cages of obscurity. We know that it comes from French cajoler, meaning “to give much attention to; to make a fuss over; to flatter or persuade with flattery”—no surprise there. But the next chapter of the word’s history may, or may not, be for the birds: it’s possible that cajoler is descended from a word that is cage-bound twice over. One potential ancestor both comes from a word meaning “birdcage” and was formed under the influence of the Anglo-French word cage, whence also comes our word cage. The ancestor of our word jail is in this lineage as well.

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