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claque

[klak]
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noun
  1. a group of persons hired to applaud an act or performer.
  2. a group of sycophants.
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Origin of claque

1860–65; < French, derivative of claquer to clap
Can be confusedclaque clique
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for claque

claque

noun
  1. a group of people hired to applaud
  2. a group of fawning admirers
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Word Origin

C19: from French, from claquer to clap, of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for claque

n.

1860, from French claque "band of claqueurs," agent noun from claquer "to clap" (16c.), echoic (cf. clap (v.)). Modern sense of "band of political followers" is transferred from that of "organized applause at theater." Claqueur "audience memeber who gives pre-arranged responses in a theater performance" is in English from 1837.

This method of aiding the success of public performances is very ancient; but it first became a permanent system, openly organized and controlled by the claquers themselves, in Paris at the beginning of the nineteenth century. [Century Dictionary]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper