verb (used with object)

to strike, especially with the hand; cuff.
  1. to bandage.
  2. to patch; mend.

Origin of clout

before 900; Middle English; Old English clūt piece of cloth or metal; cognate with Middle Low German klūte, Old Norse klūtr
Related formsclout·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clout

Contemporary Examples of clout

Historical Examples of clout

  • Even an old broken bowman might find the clout with a bow like this.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "Nay, there you are wide of the clout," the bowman said gravely.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The next moment he received a clout alongside the head that knocked him over on his side.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • As for the clout I gave Master Peter, here is a groat to mend it.

    In the Days of Drake

    J. S. Fletcher

  • Swords are for gentlemen, while clubs are to clout the heads of rogues—thus.

    The O'Ruddy

    Stephen Crane

British Dictionary definitions for clout



informal a blow with the hand or a hard object
power or influence, esp in politics
  1. the target used in long-distance shooting
  2. the centre of this target
  3. a shot that hits the centre
Also called: clout nail a short, flat-headed nail used esp for attaching sheet metal to wood
British dialect
  1. a piece of clotha dish clout
  2. a garment
  3. a patch

verb (tr)

informal to give a hard blow to, esp with the hand
to patch with a piece of cloth or leather
Derived Formsclouter, noun

Word Origin for clout

Old English clūt piece of metal or cloth, clūtian to patch (C14: to strike with the hand); related to Dutch kluit a lump, and to clod
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 clout

Old English clut "lump of something," also "patch of cloth put over a hole to mend it," from Proto-Germanic *klutaz (cf. Old Norse klute "kerchief," Danish klud "rag, tatter," Frisian klut "lump," Dutch kluit "clod, lump"); perhaps related to clot (v.).

In later use "a handkerchief," also "a woman's sanitary napkin." Sense of "a blow" is from c.1400 early 14c., from the verb. Sense of "personal influence" is 1958, on the notion of "punch, force."


"to beat, strike," early 14c., from clout (n.), perhaps on the notion of hitting someone with a lump of something, or from the "patch of cloth" sense of that word (cf. clout (v.) "to patch, mend," mid-14c.). Related: Clouted; clouting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper