[ klout ]
What does clout mean?
To have clout is to have influence or power. In popular culture, people with clout are seen as popular and cool.
Where does clout come from?
Clout long predates Instagram. The slang appears early as the 1860s for “political influence,” apparently based on a centuries-old sense of clout meaning “punch” or “force.” A person with clout can get things done on Capitol Hill or Wall Street.
Clout got new life in the 2000s with the rise of social media. Launching in 2008, an app called Klout calculated a person’s social media influence with a so-called Klout score. Have a lot of followers and get a lot of likes? You’ve got clout. People are paying attention to you.
Clout spread in the 2010s as a more general slag term denoting popularity and coolness, not unlike having swag or cred or being an influencer. Wearing a Supreme tee, some fresh kicks, and a pair of white, round sunglasses? You’re hip. You’re on point. You’ve got clout.
Speaking of white, round sunglasses, rapper Denzel Curry memorably called them his Clout Goggles. As we noted in our entry for the term, the glasses, iconically worn by rocker Kurt Cobain in the 1990s, “demand a confident but countercultural wearer.” Hip-hop artists in the early 2010s like Lil Yachty, Wiz Khalifa, and the aforementioned Denzel Curry—all of whom have clout, we could say—helped repopularize them.
Examples of clout
Who uses clout?
While the political sway of most rappers is debatable, there’s no doubt they influence social media and popular culture. Clout lives in those interconnected realms, where wearing those famed Clout Goggles can get you a lot of likes on Instagram. Rappers have so much clout, we could say, that they helped make clout a trendy slang term.
unfortunately I've seen someone who tweeted the same thing and they got more clout 😣✊
— judy : the daddy chaser (@jypswife) January 28, 2019
Clout can be used ironically, though, as internet clout can’t always be cashed in on IRL. Clout chasers, or those that do things just to project a hipper persona on social media, are greatly disliked, deemed superficial and fake.
He is clout chasing. His music hasn’t sold in years. He’s desperate to pop again. He can say what he wants, but what he’s doing is the true definition of clout chasing. https://t.co/UF6UTkbcWt
— breezega (@breezega) January 28, 2019
And if you do have clout? Don’t go proclaiming it or you might find yourself without it—unless your Denzel Curry. He can boast about his clout all he wants.
— Carloooooo (@itsyaboicarlo) January 28, 2019
Clout is a dangerous drug! Kids grow up addicted to it before they get to develop morals an principals these days 😔 social media wicked
— Millyz (@MILLYZ) January 13, 2019
Clout, as a more general term for a person’s influence and power especially in domains like politics and business, still remains in wide use. We like to think, for example, we have a lot of word clout over here at Dictionary.com.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of clout like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of clout that will help our users expand their word mastery.