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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, published 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.
    • 1965 November, Charles W. Adams, “Responsive time-shared computing in business its significance and implications”, in AFIPS '65 (Fall, part I): Proceedings of the November 30--December 1, 1965, fall joint computer conference, part I[2], New York, N.Y.: Association for Computing Machinery, archived from the original on 2022-05-11, page 486:
      It is therefore clear that the system itself must be truly "clobber proof"; that is, no user may be capable of changing anyone else's program or tying up the system in any way that would disrupt normal service to other users.
    • 1966, George A. Miller, “Thinking machines: myths and actualities”, in Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, editors, The Public Interest[3], volume 2, New York, N.Y.: National Affairs, Inc., archived from the original on 2022-05-11, page 104:
      In the slang of computer programmers, the second re-entry address is likely to "clobber" the machine's memory of the original re-entry address.
    • 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.
    • 2022, Luciano Ramalho, chapter 11, in Fluent Python, 2nd edition, O'Reilly, →ISBN:
      If you create your own mood instance attribute without being aware of the name clash, you will clobber the mood attribute used by the methods inherited from Dog.
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. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

British slang from 19th century of unknown origin, perhaps from Yiddish.[1]


clobber (uncountable)

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

Etymology 3[edit]

Of obscure origin, but compare clabber (mud, wet clay).


clobber (uncountable)

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