"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; the current spelling prevails from c. 1600, but the spelling alteration appears to be random, as the verb is merely the noun repurposed and they were pronounced the same. Originally often used alliteratively with pate (n.1) "head" as its object. Related: Pummeled; pummeling.