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Etymology 1[edit]

British slang from 1941; possibly onomatopoeic of the sound of detonated bombs in the distance.


clobber (third-person singular simple present clobbers, present participle clobbering, simple past and past participle clobbered)

  1. (transitive, slang) To hit or bash severely; to seriously harm or damage.
    • 1954, Evan Hunter, The Blackboard Jungle, 1984, page 201,
      So the temptation to clobber was always there, and it was sometimes more difficult not to strike than it would have been to strike, and the consequences be damned.
    • 2000 November 30, Kenya National Assembly Official Record (Hansard), page 3034,
      Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the East African Standard newspaper we saw a picture of a man being carried away after being clobbered. We also saw women being clobbered by well-built policemen using big clubs. They were clobbering women who had already fallen on the ground.
    • 2002, Donald K. Burleson, Oracle9i UNIX Administration Handbook[1], page 395:
      Most of the job of the UNIX Oracle DBA is keeping the database running, and it does not come as a surprise when they see how easy it is to clobber a server.
      The following script cripples the UNIX server by an implosion of incoming jobs. This is known as a denial of service (DOS) attack [] .
  2. (transitive, computing, slang) To overwrite (data) or override (an assignment of a value), often unintentionally or unexpectedly.
    • 1999, Michael J. Wooldridge, Anand Rao, Foundations of Rational Agency, page 74,
      Inferences made in accordance with this reason are defeated by finding that the merged plan clobbers one of the causal-links in one of the constituent plans.
    • 2004, John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young, Unix for Dummies, page 314,
      The cp command does one thing as it clobbers a file; mv and ln do another.
    • 2007, Billy Hoffman, Bryan Sullivan, Ajax Security, unnumbered page,
      These functions collide, and we can see in Figure 7-1 that the debug() function for SexyWidgets clobbers the developer′s debug() function. The last function declared with the same name in the same scope will silently clobber the earlier function definition.
Derived terms[edit]


clobber (uncountable)

  1. (slang) A thumping or beating.
    • 2014, Philippa Ballantine, Weather Child
      He should have stepped back and given Hemi room to chat and see where the women was going, yet he found himself drawn over to them. His friend would probably give him a clobber later on for his stupidity []
  2. A bash on say the head, typically with a tool or object rather than with fists.
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

British slang from 19th century. (This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


clobber (uncountable)

  1. (Australia, Britain, slang) Clothing; clothes.
  2. (Britain, slang) Equipment.

Etymology 3[edit]


clobber (uncountable)

  1. A paste used by shoemakers to hide the cracks in leather.


  • Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “clobber”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • The Dinkum Dictionary
  • “The Jargon File”, in (please provide the title of the work)[3], (please provide a date or year)