clap back

1 of 2


clapped back; clapping back; claps back

intransitive verb

US, informal
: to respond quickly and sharply to criticism
A lot of times when someone says something nasty to you online, your gut reaction is to clap back right away. It's always good to take a cooling-off period—I recommend sleeping on it.Patrick Crowley
This week, Mandy Moore clapped back at haters on Instagram after people accused her of Photoshopping her social media photos … "I am 5'10 and a size 6. I have NEVER photoshopped pictures … That's not what I'm about. If you're going to be rude about people's bodies, go elsewhere."Kitty Lindsay


2 of 2


clap·​back ˈklap-ˌbak How to pronounce clapback (audio)
variants or less commonly clap back
plural clapbacks also clap backs
US, informal
: a quick, sharp, and effective response to criticism
Not to be confused with a garden-variety diss, a clapback is deemed by most as a targeted, often viciously acute comeback intended to place someone in much-needed check.Aaron Edwards and Ira Madison III
We all love a good clapback. It's a comeback but with that extra oomph.Mathew Rodriguez
The art of the clap back is a study in discernment, wit, and instinct, which is why it should come as no surprise that Rihanna, Internet queen, is the reigning champ of shutting down the haters.Cady Lang

Examples of clap back in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Goldberg clapped back at followers who critiqued her kitchen habits Whoopi Goldberg is doubling down on her kitchen habits. Antonia Debianchi, Peoplemag, 27 Nov. 2023 On Wednesday, Lima clapped back at her critics with a post on her Instagram Story. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 16 Nov. 2023 Jared Goff led the Detroit Lions to a dominant 34-20 win over the Green Bay Packers Thursday night before clapping back at some pregame comments. Joe Morgan, Fox News, 29 Sep. 2023 The songstress, 38, recently clapped back at a Christian influencer who accused her of inviting demonic energy into her concerts. Sadie Bell, Peoplemag, 10 Oct. 2023 Beckinsale has clapped back to people trolling her on Instagram in the past. Tommy McArdle, Peoplemag, 25 Sep. 2023 Whoopi Goldberg is clapping back at conservatives bashing Barbie online. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 25 July 2023 Following Ciara’s response, another user praised the singer for clapping back at the negativity. Dayna Haffenden, Peoplemag, 22 Aug. 2023 The 17-year-old daughter of drummer Travis Barker took to TikTok on Monday (Aug. 1) to clap back at critics who made comments on her weight in a recent, unspecified paparazzi photo. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 22 Aug. 2023
The clapback from activist conservative judges and the financial service industry has been constant and severe. Pablo Manríquez, The New Republic, 18 Sep. 2023 This song is exactly what the title suggests: a sassy clapback to the haters with narcissism woven into every lyric. Louis Staples, Vulture, 23 June 2022 Never one to shy away from a clapback, Madonna first posted a lengthy Instagram caption on February 7 that lambasted the ageism and sexism at the root of the comments. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 21 Feb. 2023 Kahmora is quick with a clapback, and served up some quite memorable confessional moments. Paul McCallion, Vulture, 15 Jan. 2021 The designation, created by trans advocate Rachel Crandall of Transgender Michigan in 2010, started as a clapback to the limited coverage of trans people in media, and stories that were wholly focused on the violence trans people faced. Allison Hope, CNN, 31 Mar. 2023 Green quickly responded with an epic clapback. oregonlive, 9 June 2022 Look no further than Trump’s own response to DeSantis’s gentle clapback. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 23 Mar. 2023 Kourtney Kardashian loves a good clapback at random trolls who question her life choices. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 11 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clap back.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1990, in the meaning defined above


2003, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of clap back was in 1990

Dictionary Entries Near clap back


clap back


Cite this Entry

“Clap back.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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