verb (used with object), clapped, clap·ping.

  1. to strike the palms of (one’s hands) against one another resoundingly, and usually repeatedly, especially to express approval: She clapped her hands in appreciation.
  2. to strike (someone) amicably with a light, open-handed slap, as in greeting, encouragement, or the like: He clapped his friend on the back.
  3. to strike (an object) against something quickly and forcefully, producing an abrupt, sharp sound, or a series of such sounds: to clap a book on the table.
  4. to bring together forcefully (facing surfaces of the same object): She clapped the book shut.
  5. to applaud (a performance, speech, speaker, etc.) by clapping the hands: The audience clapped the actors at the end of the act.
  6. to put or place quickly or forcefully: to clap a lid on a jar; She clapped her hand over his mouth. They clapped him in jail.
  7. to make or arrange hastily (often followed by up or together).

verb (used without object), clapped, clap·ping.

  1. to clap the hands, as to express approval; applaud: After the audience stopped clapping, the tenor sang two encores.
  2. to make an abrupt, sharp sound, as of flat surfaces striking against one another: The shutters clapped in the wind.
  3. to move or strike with such a sound: She clapped across the room in her slippers.


  1. an act or instance of clapping.
  2. the abrupt, sharp sound produced by clapping.
  3. a resounding blow; slap.
  4. a loud and abrupt or explosive noise, as of thunder.
  5. a sudden stroke, blow, or act.
  6. Printing. clapper(def 5).
  7. Obsolete. a sudden mishap.
  1. clap eyes on. eye(def 42).
  2. clap hold of, Nautical. to take hold of.

verb claps, clapping or clapped

  1. to make or cause to make a sharp abrupt sound, as of two nonmetallic objects struck together
  2. to applaud (someone or something) by striking the palms of the hands together sharply
  3. (tr) to strike (a person) lightly with an open hand, in greeting, encouragement, etc
  4. (tr) to place or put quickly or forciblythey clapped him into jail
  5. (of certain birds) to flap (the wings) noisily
  6. (tr; foll by up or together) to contrive or put together hastilythey soon clapped up a shed
  7. clap eyes on informal to catch sight of
  8. clap hold of informal to grasp suddenly or forcibly


  1. the sharp abrupt sound produced by striking the hands together
  2. the act of clapping, esp in applausehe deserves a good clap
  3. a sudden sharp sound, esp of thunder
  4. a light blow
  5. archaic a sudden action or mishap


  1. the clap a slang word for gonorrhoea

Old English clæppan “to throb, beat,” common West Germanic, echoic (cf. Old Frisian klapa “to beat,” Old Norse klappa, Old High German klaphon, German klappen, Old Saxon klapunga). Meaning “to strike or knock” is from c.1300. Meaning “to make a sharp noise” is late 14c. Of hands, to beat them together to get attention or express joy, from late 14c. To clap (someone) on the back is from 1520s. Related: Clapped; clapping.


“gonorrhea,” 1580s, of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle English clapper “rabbit-hole,” from Old French clapoire (Modern French clapier), originally “rabbit burrow” (of uncertain origin), but given a slang extension to “brothel” and also the name of a disease of some sort. In English originally also a verb, “to infect with clap.” Related: Clap-doctor.


“loud noise,” c.1200, from clap (v.). Of thunder, late 14c. Meaning “sudden blow” is from c.1400; meaning “noise made by slapping the palms of the hands together” is from 1590s.


  1. Gonorrhea. Often used with the.

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