AskDefine | Define truncheon

Dictionary Definition

truncheon n : a short stout club used primarily by policemen [syn: nightstick, billy, billystick, billy club]

User Contributed Dictionary



From tronchon, from truncus.


  • a UK /tɹʌnʃən/ /trVnS@n/


  1. A short staff, a club; a cudgel; a shaft of a spear.
    • 1786: One is a large ball of iron, fastened with three chains to a strong truncheon or staff of about two feet long; the other is of mixed metal, in the form of a channelled melon, fastened also to a staff by a triple chain; these balls weigh eight pounds. — Francis Grose, A Treatise on Ancient Armour and Weapons, page 52.
    • With his truncheon he so rudely struck. Spenser.
  2. A baton, or military staff of command.
    • 1604: Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace As mercy does. — William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene II, line 60.
  3. A stout stem, as of a tree, with the branches lopped off, to produce rapid growth.

See also

Extensive Definition

A club (also known as cudgel, baton, truncheon, night stick, and bludgeon) is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon.
Typically, a club is small enough to be wielded in one hand. Clubs that need both hands to wield are called quarterstaffs in English. Various kinds of clubs are used in martial arts and other specialized fields, including the law enforcement baton.
The wounds inflicted by a club are generally known as bludgeoning or blunt-force trauma injuries.

Law enforcement

Police forces have traditionally favored the use of less-lethal weapons.
Until recent times this has generally been some form of wooden club: truncheons, batons, night sticks and lathi


Although perhaps the simplest of all weapons there are many variations, including:
  • Aklys - The Aklys is a club with an integrated leather thong, used to return it to the hand after snapping it at an opponent. Its origin is unclear.
  • Baseball and T-ball bats - The baseball bat is often used as an improvised weapon, much like the pickaxe handle. In countries where baseball is not commonly played, baseball bats are often first thought of as weapons, and in Poland, baseball bats have been made illegal to possess without a license. Tee ball bats are also used in this manner. Their smaller size and lighter weight make the bat easier to handle in one hand than a baseball bat.
  • Jitte - One of the more distinctive weapons of the samurai police (Keisatsu-Kan) was the Jitte (or Jutte). Basically an iron truncheon, the Jitte was popular because it could parry the slash of a razor-sharp sword and disarm an assailant without serious injury. Essentially a defensive or restraining weapon, the length of the Jitte requires the user to get extremely close to those being apprehended.A single hook or fork, called a Kagi, on the side near the handle allowed the Jitte to be used for trapping or even breaking the blades of edged weapons, as well as for jabbing and striking. The Kagi could also be used to entangle the clothes or fingers of an opponent. Thus, feudal Japanese police used the Jitte to disarm and arrest subjects without serious bloodshed. Eventually, the Jitte also came to be considered a symbol of official status.
  • Knobkierie - A Knobkierie, occasionally spelled knopkierie or knobkerry, is a strong, short wooden club with a heavy rounded knob or head on one end, traditionally used by Southern African tribes including the Zulu, as a weapon in warfare and the chase. The word Knobkerrie derives from the Dutch knop (knob or button), and the Bushman and Hottentot kerrie or kirri (stick).The weapon is employed at close quarters, or as a missile, and in time of peace may serve as a walking-stick. The head, or knob, is often ornately carved with faces or shapes that have symbolic meaning. The knobkierie itself serves this function in the crest of the 2000 new federal coat of Arms of South Africa.The name has been extended to similar weapons used by the natives of Australia, the Pacific islands and other places.
  • Life Preserver (sometimes hyphenated Life-preserver), a club intended for self-defense. Mentioned in several Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Mace - A mace is a metal club with a heavy head on the end, designed to deliver very powerful blows. The head of a mace may also have small studs forged into it. The mace is often confused with the spiked morning star.
  • Pickaxe handle - Pickaxes were common tools in the United States in the early 20th century, and replacement handles were widely available. Strong and heavy, they make a formidable club and have often been used as club weapons. Pickaxe handles were handed out by segregationist Lester Maddox to the white patrons of his Pickrick Restaurant to keep that establishment from being "integrated".
  • Rungu - A rungu (Swahili, plural marungu) is a wooden throwing club or baton bearing special symbolism and significance in certain East African tribal cultures. It is especially associated with Maasai morans (male warriors) who have traditionally used it in warfare and for hunting.
  • Slapjack This is a variation of the blackjack. It consists of a longer strap which lets it be used flail-type, and can be used as a club or for trapping techniques as seen in the use of nunchaku and other flexible weapons. The slapjack became illegal for United States police officers to carry in the early 1980s.
  • Sally rod - A Sally rod is a long, thin wooden stick, generally made from willow (Latin Salix), and used chiefly in the past in Ireland as a disciplinary implement, but also sometimes used like a club (without the fencing-like technique of stick fighting) in fights and brawls.
  • Shillelagh - A shillelagh is a wooden club or cudgel, typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob on the end, that is associated with Ireland in folklore.
  • Telescopic - Telescopic batons are rigid batons that are capable of collapsing to a shorter length for greater portability and concealability. They are illegal in the UK and some other countries. In Hungary these weapons are named "vipera" ("viper") and though officially illegal, they were reported as being repeatedly used by riot police units.


truncheon in Danish: Kølle (våben)
truncheon in German: Schlagstock
truncheon in French: Gourdin
truncheon in Scottish Gaelic: Batan
truncheon in Lithuanian: Kuoka
truncheon in Dutch: knots
truncheon in Japanese: 棍棒
truncheon in Norwegian: Batong
truncheon in Polish: Maczuga (broń)
truncheon in Portuguese: Porrete
truncheon in Russian: Палица
truncheon in Finnish: Pamppu
truncheon in Swedish: Batwing
truncheon in Thai: บาตอง
truncheon in Chinese: 棍棒
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