a sharp, hard, nonresonant sound, like that produced by two pieces of metal striking, one against the other: the clank of chains; the clank of an iron gate slamming shut.

verb (used without object)

to make such a sound.
to move with such sounds: The old jalopy clanked up the hill.

verb (used with object)

to cause to make a sharp sound, as metal in collision: He clanked the shovel against the pail.
to place, put, set, etc., with a clank: to clank the cell door shut.

Origin of clank

First recorded in 1605–15, clank is from the Dutch word klank sound
Related formsclank·ing·ly, adverbclank·ing·ness, nounclank·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for clank

jangle, clash, bang, ring, bong, clink, resound, toll, reverberate

Examples from the Web for clank

Contemporary Examples of clank

Historical Examples of clank

  • There was trouble in that place—moaning, splashing, gurgling, and the clank of machinery.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • The clank of the iron chain in the gear told that the cage in the shaft was working.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • Behind them now came the clank and thud of a score of overtaking feet.

  • Voices and the clank of chains were heard in the patio, and then in the next room.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • The shuffling movement and clank of chains was heard, but she did not turn her head.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for clank



an abrupt harsh metallic sound


to make or cause to make such a sound
(intr) to move or operate making such a sound
Derived Formsclankingly, adverb

Word Origin for clank

C17: 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 clank

1610s, perhaps echoic, perhaps a blend of clang (v.) and clink (v.), perhaps from a Low German source (cf. Middle Dutch clank, Dutch klank, Old High German klanc, Middle Low German klank, German Klang).


1650s, from clank (v.). Reduplicated form clankety-clank attested from 1895.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper