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”). The sense “influence, especially political” originated in the dialect of Chicago, but has become widespread.
- (informal) Influence or effectiveness, especially political.
- 1975, Len O'Connor, Clout--Mayor Daley and His City, 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:
- 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, Kimetrius Foose (Lil Skies), Myron Goedhart (lyrics and music), “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 [sic] looking 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:
- 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.
- (regional, informal) A blow with the hand.
- (baseball, informal) A home run.
- 2011 August 17, Michael Vega, “Triple double”, in The Boston Globe, page C1:
- '... allowed Boston to score all of its runs on homers, including a pair of clouts by Jacoby Ellsbury ...'
- (archery) The center of the butt at which archers shoot; probably once a piece of white cloth or a nail head.
- c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. […] The First Part […], 2nd edition, part 1, London: […] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, […], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act II, scene iv:
- For kings are clouts that euery man ſhoots at,
Our Crowne the pin that thouſands ſeeke to cleaue.
- (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.
- (archaic) A cloth; a piece of cloth or leather; a patch; a rag.
- c. 1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], page 12, columns 1–2:
- If I were mad, I ſhould forget my ſonne, / or madly thinke a babe of clowts were he; I am not mad: too well, too well I feele / The different plague of each clamitie.
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ii]:
- […] a clout upon that head
Where late the diadem stood […]
- (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.
- A clout nail.
- (obsolete) A piece; a fragment.
- To hit, especially with the fist.
- 1997, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, published 1998, page 57:
- A wizard? Him? How could he possibly be? He'd spent his life being clouted by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if he was really a wizard, why hadn't they been turned into warty toads every time they'd tried to lock him in his cupboard?
- To cover with cloth, leather, or other material; to bandage, patch, or mend with a clout.
- 1549, Hugh Latimer, “[The Second Sermon of Master Hugh Latimer, which He Preached before the King’s Majesty, within His Grace’s Palace at Westminster, the Fifteenth Day of March, 1549.] To the Reader.”, in George Elwes Corrie, editor, Sermons by Hugh Latimer, Sometime Bishop of Worcester, Martyr, 1555 (The Works of Hugh Latimer; I), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: […] University Press, published 1844, →OCLC, page 110:
- To stud with nails, as a timber, or a boot sole.
- To guard with an iron plate, as an axletree.
- To join or patch clumsily.
- 1633, Phineas Fletcher, The Purple Island:
- if fond Bavius vent his clouted song
- Dated form of .
- 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, […]
clout (plural cloutes)
- A (smaller) piece of fabric; a shred:
- A (larger) piece of fabric; a cloth:
- A washer; a round metal panel.
- A fragment or shred.
- A strike, blow or hit.
- “clǒut, n.(1).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- “clǒut, n.(3).”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- Alternative form of