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

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



    clap eyes on. eye(def 42).
    clap hold of, Nautical. to take hold of.

Origin of clap

1175–1225; Middle English clappen, Old English clæppan; cognate with Middle Low German kleppen



noun Slang: Vulgar.

gonorrhea (often preceded by the).

Origin of clap

1580–90; akin to Middle French clapoir bubo, clapier brothel, Old Provençal clapier warren Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clap

Contemporary Examples of clap

Historical Examples of clap

  • He wanted to curse and swear, and had to clap his hands on his mouth to prevent it.

  • From outside I thought it was beautiful, and I began to clap my hands on reaching the house.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • But the clap of thunder came on the very night of the nuptials.

  • Throw off your moorings, then, and clap on sail, for we must go.'

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • At the first clap of thunder, Mademoiselle Remanjou made the sign of the cross.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for clap



verb claps, clapping or clapped

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


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

Word Origin for clap

Old English clæppan; related to Old High German klepfen, Middle Dutch klape rattle, Dutch klepel clapper; all of imitative origin




the clap a slang word for gonorrhoea

Word Origin for clap

C16: from Old French clapoir venereal sore, from clapier brothel, from Old Provençal, from clap heap of stones, of obscure 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 clap

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for clap




Gonorrhea. Often used with the.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.