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See more synonyms for clapper on Thesaurus.com
  1. a person who applauds.
  2. the tongue of a bell.
  3. Slang. the tongue.
  4. Usually clappers. two flat sticks held between the fingers and struck rhythmically against each other to produce abrupt, sharp sounds.
  5. Printing. a platen press.
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Origin of clapper

First recorded in 1250–1300, clapper is from the Middle English word claper. See clap1, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for clapper

observer, viewer, bystander, fan, onlooker, theatergoer, looker, beholder, watcher, kibitzer, eyewitness, seer, witness, playgoer, clapper, perceiver, standee, looker-on, buzzer, siren

Examples from the Web for clapper

Contemporary Examples of clapper

Historical Examples of clapper

  • Only this morning she keeps on at me wi' her questions like the clapper o' a bell.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • There was nothing for it but to tie a handkerchief round the clapper of the bell.

  • This completes the circuit again and the clapper is pulled down.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • On examining the belfry, it was discovered that some persons had carried off the clapper of the bell.

  • My heart beat in my temples like the clapper of an alarm-bell.

British Dictionary definitions for clapper


  1. a person or thing that claps
  2. a contrivance for producing a sound of clapping, as for scaring birds
  3. Also called: tongue a small piece of metal suspended within a bell that causes it to sound when made to strike against its side
  4. a slang word for tongue (def. 1)
  5. go like the clappers, run like the clappers or move like the clappers British informal to move extremely fast
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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 clapper


late 13c., agent noun from clap (v.). Meaning "tongue of a bell" is from late 14c. Old English had clipur. Meaning "hinged board snapped in front of a camera at the start of filming to synchronize picture and sound" is from 1940.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper