Lookups for 'Claque' Spike Following Reports of Trump's CIA Visit
Claque spiked in lookups on January 23, 2017, following stories about the enthusiastic applause for Donald Trump when he visited CIA headquarters. It was revealed that many of those in attendance were not CIA staff, but Trump supporters invited for the occasion. Trump had also hired actors to applaud during the announcement of his candidacy.
Claque means “a group hired to applaud at a performance” or “a group of sycophants.” A member of a claque can be called a claqueur. People have been paid to show enthusiasm at performances since ancient times, and the practice went from Greece and Rome to France in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Claque is the French word for “slap” or “smack.” It came to English in the mid-1800s:
A National Guard said he recollected having seen the man, and even speaking to him, at the Opera on Friday night last. The National Guard describes him as belonging to the claque, or hired applauders of the theatre.
—The Scotsman, 4 Jan. 1837
The practice of hiring people to show support isn’t limited to celebration: a Scottish English word for “a hired mourner” is saulie.
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