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meaning of 'clout'.

(50 Posts)
Fennel Fri 19-Jul-19 15:15:24

This question is mainly for Geordies. But other replies are welcome.
I used the word 'clout' recently to mean a slap or a punch.
A clout around the head. Then I remembered it can also mean clothing eg "Ne'er cast a clout till May be out".
Then I looked it up and the modern use means more like political influence.
I even found one that says it means vagina!
So what do you think?

Mossfarr Fri 19-Jul-19 17:23:39

My understanding of the expression 'ne'er cast a clout til May is out' was regarding putting out bedding plants. Casting a clout was turning or digging the soil.
'Clout around the ear' meaning a smack or punch is also familiar to me.

Fennel Fri 19-Jul-19 19:04:59

So 'clout ' usually means a physical blow. Thanks to all.
I've been trying to find the link to 'vagina' but can't find it.
I love the vagaries of our language. smile

Fennel Fri 19-Jul-19 19:07:27

ps Mossfar - turning the soil is a really original one. hmm

Elegran Fri 19-Jul-19 20:11:36

Clout is a similar sound to clod, so that makes sense.

petra Fri 19-Jul-19 20:22:57

According to the Urban Dictionary it refers to knickers, especially the big Bridget Jones type.

absent Fri 19-Jul-19 20:32:52

The wind at North and East
Was never good for man nor beast,
So never think to cast a clout
Until the month of May be out.

F. K. Robinson's Whitby Glossary (1855).

NfkDumpling Fri 19-Jul-19 21:26:22

I was brought up in Norfolk with two meanings for clout - one is to hit something as a clip around the ear or bang in a nail (with a clout hammer) and the other is a babies nappy or a sanitary pad.

I believe in medieval times it was also a name for thick undergarments hence the not casting a clout before may be out meaning taking off the extra winter undies. And I understand its the may flower which is referred to.

MissAdventure Fri 19-Jul-19 21:43:49

I did know about the use of clout to mean vagina.
I thought it was an American thing?

Grammaretto Fri 19-Jul-19 22:37:57

a clout is a cloth surely? Probably Germanic or Scandinavian origin.
Danish is clud

NotAGran55 Fri 19-Jul-19 22:53:06

Ditto Gillybob’s post . I’m in the south but my dad was a Geordie .

grannyactivist Fri 19-Jul-19 23:01:00

The etymology of 'clout' can be found here.

boheminan Fri 19-Jul-19 23:45:14

Thank you grannyactivist for the etymology explanation. For many years I've held ground with remembering my mums use of clouts and being told over the years that I'm wrong. it's such a relief to know I've not been imagining the reality from my childhood....

MrsAllboys Fri 19-Jul-19 23:55:43

I’m a southerner so pronounce it clowt but the 3 meanings are the same. Also the soil/earth/mud thing was usually ‘clod’. As in “clodhopping “. However never heard of clout meaning vagina!!

MissAdventure Sat 20-Jul-19 00:07:16

I'm sure I learned about the last meaning of the word after my internet ramblings took me onto this group.

Apparently the name is sort of ironic.
Surely I didn't make that lot up in my own head, did I?

BradfordLass72 Sat 20-Jul-19 02:27:22

Aye, in Yorkshire as well.

'I'll give thee a clout round t'ears if tha doan't behave thissen.'

And 'This babby needs his breech clouts changing, he's wet through.'

In my old Funk & Wagnalls, published in 1930, there are 10 other definitions.

grandtanteJE65 Sat 20-Jul-19 12:47:25

We knitted month cloths of cotton yarn - they were far more comfortable than those horrible paper sanitary towels and as they had holes you put a tape through at either end they stayed put - absolutely necessary for professional dancers.

Resurgam123 Fri 09-Aug-19 00:07:47

Clouts are also a kind of nail.

Resurgam123 Fri 09-Aug-19 00:14:39

A clout is also a nail used to pin down roofing felt .

Mamie Fri 09-Aug-19 05:41:21

Un clou is a nail in French and clouté means studded or hobnailed.

RosieLeah Fri 09-Aug-19 06:57:52

According to my dictionary, it is also the name for the centre of a target...and a patch, as used by a cobbler.

Who would have believed one word could have so many meanings.

The monthly period used to be called 'the rags', because of the need to wear a bundle of rags. Personally, I can imagine a piece of muslin stuffed with bits of cloth, would be quite comfortable to wear. You would need to make the back waterproof in some way.

WOODMOUSE49 Fri 09-Aug-19 09:33:34

In Derbyshire it means to hit and also to carry some power "She had a lot clout". Both used a lot.

theretheredear Fri 09-Aug-19 11:36:40

Washable sanitary wear is still around & gaining popularity for economic & environmental reasons.

Mooncups are very popular now too!

lemongrove Fri 09-Aug-19 11:45:51

Boheminan there were sanitary pads in the 1950’s ( and maybe earlier) as we children found a pack in our mother’s wardrobe and delightedly wore one each as a beard ( a loop over each ear) and pretended to be Father Christmas.That was around 1955.

lemongrove Fri 09-Aug-19 11:46:53

....when mother saw us we got a clout round the head.