Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Meaning: originating in the French theatre, a group of people paid to applaud, and therefore extended pejoratively to a group of supporters or flatterers.

Usefulness: 1 ("We need a claque for a forum coming up - any volunteers?" Could also be extended to social media: "I'm sure most of his followers are from a claque.")

Logofascination: 1 (It's a fraternal twin to clique - they're both onomatopoeic, but clique has wandered off slightly to mean a more exclusive group. I like the idea of using them together; you can talk of cliques and claques, cliquers and claquers.)

In the wild: I've seen it in a few places, including over at LTA, but the Wikipedia article is interesting: it alleges that there were also rieurs (laughers), pleureurs (criers), chatouilleurs (ticklers, warm-up comics), bisseurs (encore-ers) and possibly my favourite, "commissaires ... who learned the piece by heart and called the attention of their neighbors to its good points between the acts." There are definitely some commissairesout there today.

Degrees: 2

Connections: claquer - clap

Which is used in: quite a few places in G&P, this one being from Book the Second (Pantagruel) XVIII: How a great scholar of England would have argued against Pantagruel, and was overcome by Panurge.
Thus all being assembled, Thaumast stayed for them, and then, when Pantagruel and Panurge came into the hall, all the schoolboys, professors of arts, senior sophisters, and bachelors began to clap their hands, as their scurvy custom is. 
I'm not quite sure why Rabelais was against clapping; too much interruption, perhaps?

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