"to beat or strike repeatedly, especially with the fist," 1540s, alteration of pommel (q.v.) in a verbal sense of "to beat repeatedly" with or as with a pommel or something thick and bulky. In early use pumble, poumle; current spelling prevails from c. 1600. Originally often used alliteratively with pate (n.1) "head" as its object. Related: Pummeled; pummeling.