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[kleek, klik] /klik, klɪk/
a small, exclusive group of people; coterie; set.
verb (used without object), cliqued, cliquing.
Informal. to form, or associate in, a clique.
Origin of clique
1705-15; < French, apparently metaphorical use of Middle French clique latch, or noun derivative of cliquer to make noise, resound, imitative word parallel to click1
Related forms
cliqueless, adjective
cliquey, cliquy, adjective
cliquism, noun
subclique, noun
Can be confused
claque, clique.
click, clique.
1. See circle, ring1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for clique
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They believe you've got into a clique—that you've given us away.

    The Border Legion Zane Grey
  • Liquor was the only bond which held the clique together there.

    When Life Was Young C. A. Stephens
  • A clique breaks up, there is a new coalition, and those who plotted each other's downfall are united again.

    The Coast of Adventure Harold Bindloss
  • I might call them a clique; but that is not a good word, and does not express what I mean.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
  • Nineteen members of the Senate belonged to the clique led by representatives of the brewing interests.

British Dictionary definitions for clique


/kliːk; klɪk/
a small, exclusive group of friends or associates
Derived Forms
cliquish, adjective
cliquishly, adverb
cliquishness, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French, perhaps from Old French: latch, from cliquer to click; suggestive of the necessity to exclude nonmembers
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
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Word Origin and History for clique

1711, "a party of persons; a small set, especially one associating for exclusivity," from obsolete French clique, originally (14c.) "a sharp noise," also "latch, bolt of a door," from Old French cliquer "click, clatter, crackle, clink," 13c., echoic. Apparently this word was at one time treated in French as the equivalent of claque (q.v.) and partook of that word's theatrical sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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clique in Technology

A maximal totally connected subgraph. Given a graph with nodes N, a clique C is a subset of N where every node in C is directly connected to every other node in C (i.e. C is totally connected), and C contains all such nodes (C is maximal). In other words, a clique contains all, and only, those nodes which are directly connected to all other nodes in the clique.
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The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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