Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



  • IPA(key): /klaʊt/
    • (file)
  • (Canada) IPA(key): /klʌʊt/
  • Rhymes: -aʊt

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English clout, from Old English clūt, from Proto-Germanic *klūtaz, from Proto-Indo-European *gelewdos, from Proto-Indo-European *gel- (to ball up, amass). Cognate with Old Norse klútr (kerchief)[1], Swedish klut, Danish klud, Middle High German klōz (lump), whence German Kloß, and dialect Russian глуда (gluda)[2]. See also cleat. The sense “influence, especially political” originated in the dialect of Chicago, but has become widespread.


clout (countable and uncountable, plural clouts)

  1. Influence or effectiveness, especially political.
    • 1975, Len O'Connor, Clout--Mayor Daley and His City[1], page 74:
      Having relinquished his clout in City Council to run for a place on the county board, and having lost stature by reason of his failure to win the presidency, Duffy was in no position to seek the party chairmanship for himself
    • 2011 December 15, Felicity Cloake, “How to cook the perfect nut roast”, in Guardian[2]:
      The chopped mushrooms add depth to both the Waitrose and the Go-Go Vegan recipe, but what gives the latter some real clout on the flavour front is a teaspoon of Marmite.
    • 2017, “Fake”, performed by Lil Skies:
      It's funny how they judge you when they see you made a change / I poured another four just to take away the pain / My friends weren't my friends, they was lookin' for some clout / I had what they wanted so they always came around
    • 2019 November 29, Taylor Lorenz, “Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom”, in New York Times[3]:
      Rowan, like most teenagers on the internet, wasn’t after fame or money, though he made a decent amount — at one point $10,000 a month and more, he said. What Rowan wanted was clout. On the internet, clout is a social currency that can be used to obtain just about anything. Rack up enough while you’re young, and doors everywhere begin to open.
  2. (regional, informal) A blow with the hand.
    • 1910, Katherine Mansfield, Frau Brenchenmacher Attends A Wedding
      ‘Such a clout on the ear as you gave me… But I soon taught you.’
  3. (baseball, informal) A home run.
    • 2011, Michael Vega, "Triple double", in The Boston Globe, August 17, 2011, p. C1.
      '... allowed Boston to score all of its runs on homers, including a pair of clouts by Jacoby Ellsbury ...'
  4. (archery) The center of the butt at which archers shoot; probably once a piece of white cloth or a nail head.
  5. (regional, dated) A swaddling cloth.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 12:
      When a new-hatched savage running wild about his native woodlands in a grass clout, followed by the nibbling goats, as if he were a green sapling; even then, in Queequeg’s ambitious soul, lurked a strong desire to see something more of Christendom than a specimen whaler or two.
  6. (archaic) A cloth; a piece of cloth or leather; a patch; a rag.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 1, Canto 9, p. 129,[5]
      His garment nought but many ragged clouts, / With thornes together pind and patched was, / The which his naked sides he wrapt abouts;
    • c. 1600 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2,[6]
      [] a clout upon that head
      Where late the diadem stood []
    • 1743, Robert Drury, The Pleasant, and Surprizing Adventures of Mr. Robert Drury, during his Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar, London, p. 74,[7]
      We condol’d with each other, and observ’d how wretchedly we look’d, all naked, except a small Clout about our Middles []
    • 1980, Colin Thubron, Seafarers: The Venetians, page 33:
      The Byzantines, wrote Robert of Clari, hooted and jeered from the battlements, "and let down their clouts and showed them their backsides."
  7. (archaic) An iron plate on an axletree or other wood to keep it from wearing; a washer.
    • 1866, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 1, page 546:
      Clouts were thin and flat pieces of iron, used it appears to strengthen the box of the wheel; perhaps also for nailing on such other parts of the cart as were particularly exposed to wear.
  8. (obsolete) A piece; a fragment.
    • c. 1390s, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, “The Merchant’s Tale,” lines 707-709, in The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, London: Bell & Daldy, 1866, Volume 2, p. 339,[8]
      And whan sche of this bille hath taken heede, / Sche rente it al to cloutes atte laste / And into the privy softely it caste.
Derived terms[edit]


clout (third-person singular simple present clouts, present participle clouting, simple past and past participle clouted)

  1. To hit, especially with the fist.
  2. To cover with cloth, leather, or other material; to bandage, patch, or mend with a clout.
    • (Can we date this quote by Latimer and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Paul, yea, and Peter, too, had more skill in [] clouting an old tent than to teach lawyers.
  3. To stud with nails, as a timber, or a boot sole.
  4. To guard with an iron plate, as an axletree.
  5. To join or patch clumsily.
    • (Can we date this quote by P. Fletcher and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      if fond Bavius vent his clouted song

Etymology 2[edit]


clout (third-person singular simple present clouts, present participle clouting, simple past and past participle clouted)

  1. Dated form of clot.
    • 1948, The Essex Review
      He tells us how to butter eggs, boil eels, clout cream, stew capons, how to make a fine cake, an almond pudding and a raspberry conserve, []


  1. ^ clout in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  2. ^ clout in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary