Definition of clout in English:


Line breaks: clout
Pronunciation: /klaʊt


  • 1 informal A heavy blow with the hand or a hard object: a clout round the ear
    More example sentences
    • The cat bounced out of the carrier, fetched his companion a good clout round the ears, and made off to his bowl where he sat, waiting with no patience at all for his delayed breakfast.
    • He had no idea what the fuss was about but fetched her a good clout round the ear just to be sure.
    • To my dismay, one small box of carefully packed pottery ornaments must have received a heavy clout at some time in the past few years and many of the pieces were chipped, or rubbed.
  • 3 archaic A piece of cloth or article of clothing.
    More example sentences
    • Perhaps you might like to send me some pictures of you in your clouts.
  • 4 Archery A target twelve times the usual size, placed flat on the ground with a flag marking its centre and used in long-distance shooting.
    More example sentences
    • This type of sight allows the archer to aim directly at the clout flag while still holding the bow at an elevated angle so the arrow will travel the required distance.
  • 4.1A long-distance shot that hits a clout.


[with object] Back to top  
  • 2 archaic Mend with a patch: he helps the women clout their pans


ne'er cast a clout till May be out

proverb Do not discard your winter clothes until the end of May.
More example sentences
  • There's certainly an abundance of May blossom about, and the excellent weather has seen me casting clouts like they were going out of fashion.


Old English clūt (in the sense 'a patch or metal plate'); related to Dutch kluit 'lump, clod', also to cleat and clot. The shift of sense to 'heavy blow', which dates from late Middle English, is difficult to explain; possibly the change occurred first in the verb (from 'put a patch on' to 'hit hard').

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