a person or thing that clips or cuts.
Often clippers. (often used with a plural verb) a cutting tool, especially shears: hedge clippers.
Usually clippers. (usually used with a plural verb) a mechanical or electric tool for cutting hair, fingernails, or the like: He told the barber, “No clippers on the sides, please.”
Nautical. Also called clipper ship. a sailing ship built and rigged for speed, especially a type of three-masted ship with a fast hull form and a lofty rig, built in the U.S. from c1845, and in Great Britain from a later date, until c1870, and used in trades in which speed was more important than cargo capacity.
Electronics. a device that gives output only for an input above or below a certain critical value.
a person or thing that moves along swiftly.

Origin of clipper

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at clip1, -er1
Related formsun·clip·per, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for clipper

sailboat, ship, boat

Examples from the Web for clipper

Contemporary Examples of clipper

Historical Examples of clipper

  • The Sophia was a clipper; and made the run out in a few days.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • You'll see this boy on the quarter deck of a clipper one of these days.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • If I had an oar or somethin' to steer this clipper with, maybe we could git into shoal water.

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • Night was drawing near, and the clipper was slipping fast away from us.

  • Alfred was all of one rainy Sunday reading that copy of the Clipper.

British Dictionary definitions for clipper



any fast sailing ship
a person or thing that cuts or clips
something, such as a horse or sled, that moves quickly
electronics another word for limiter
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 clipper

late 14c., "sheepshearer;" early 15c., "a barber;" c.1300 as a surname; agent noun from Middle English clippen "shorten" (see clip (v.1)). The type of fast sailing ship so called from 1823 (in Cooper's "The Pilot"), probably from clip (v.1) in sense of "to move or run rapidly," hence early 19c. sense "person or animal who looks capable of fast running." Perhaps originally simply "fast ship," regardless of type:

Well, you know, the Go-along-Gee was one o' your flash Irish cruisers -- the first o' your fir-built frigates -- and a clipper she was! Give her a foot o' the sheet, and she'd go like a witch--but somehow o'nother, she'd bag on a bowline to leeward. ["Naval Sketch-Book," by "An officer of rank," London, 1826]

The early association of the ships was with Baltimore, Maryland. Perhaps influenced by Middle Dutch klepper "swift horse," echoic (Clipper appears as the name of an English race horse in 1831). In late 18c., the word principally meant "one who cuts off the edges of coins" for the precious metal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper