AskDefine | Define applaud

Dictionary Definition



1 clap one's hands or shout after performances to indicate approval [syn: clap, spat, acclaim] [ant: boo]
2 express approval of; "I applaud your efforts"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. In the context of "transitive|intransitive": To express approval (of something) by clapping the hands.
    After the performance, the audience applauded for five minutes
  2. In the context of "transitive|intransitive": To praise, or express approval for something or someone.
    Although we don't like your methods, we applaud your motives.


To express approval by clapping
  • Croatian: aplaudirati
  • Dutch: applaudisseren
  • French: applaudir
  • German: applaudieren
  • Greek: χειροκροτώ
  • Italian: applaudire
  • Japanese: 拍手する (hakushu suru)
  • Latvian: aplaudēt
  • Portuguese: aplaudir
To praise, or express approval by words
  • Croatian: aplaudirati
  • Dutch: applaudisseren
  • French: louer, approuver
  • German: loben, befürworten
  • Italian: lodare, approvare
  • Latvian atzīt, apsveikt
  • Portuguese: aplaudir
Translations to be checked

Extensive Definition

Applause (Latin applaudere, to strike upon, clap) is primarily the expression of approval by the act of clapping, or striking the palms of the hands together, in order to create noise. Audiences are usually expected to applaud after a performance, such as a musical concert, speech, or play. In most western countries, audience members clap their hands at random to produce a constant noise; however, it tends to synchronize naturally to a weak degree. As a form of mass nonverbal communication, it is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval.
The custom of applauding may be as old and as widespread as humanity, and the variety of its forms is limited only by the capacity for devising means of making a noise. Within each culture, however, it is usually subject to conventions. The ancient Romans had a set ritual of applause for public performances, expressing degrees of approval: snapping the finger and thumb, clapping with the flat or hollow palm, waving the flap of the toga, for which last the emperor Aurelian substituted handkerchiefs (orarium) that he had distributed to the Roman people. In Roman theatre, at the close of the play, the chief actor called out "Valete et plaudite!", and the audience, guided by an unofficial choregus, chanted their applause antiphonally. This was often organized and paid for.
With the proliferation of Christianity, customs of the theatre were adopted by the churches. Eusebius says that Paul of Samosata encouraged the congregation to applaud his preaching by waving linen cloths (οθοναις), and in the 4th and 5th centuries applause of the rhetoric of popular preachers had become an established custom. Applause in church eventually fell out of fashion, however, and, partly by the influence of the quasi-religious atmosphere of the Wagner performances at Bayreuth, the reverential spirit that inspired this soon extended back to the theatre and the concert hall.
Indiscriminate applause is widely considered a violation of classical music concert etiquette. There have been a number of attempts to restrict applause in various circumstances. For example, court theaters in Berlin prohibit applause during the performance and before the curtain call, although generally in Germany this is felt to be beyond public tastes.
The traditions of most Westminster Parliaments discourage applause in favour of the hear hear.
Well-recognized politicians or actors often receive applause as soon as they first appear on stage, even before delivering their speech or speaking their first lines. This accolade is given to indicate admiration for his or her past achievements, and is not a response to the performance the audience is attending.
On some occasions, applause occurs in the middle of an event. The President of the United States, in his State of the Union address, is often interrupted by applause; in fact, tracking the number of such interruptions has become a trend for various television news channels. It is often customary for jazz performers to receive applause in the middle of a tune, after completing an improvisational solo. Applause during a symphony is now regarded as a breach of concert etiquette, but this is not always the case in opera.
A golf clap is a form of quiet clapping, so-named because it is the preferred form of applause for golfers; louder forms of applause are discouraged at golf tournaments so as not to disturb other golfers, who may be in the process of attempting a shot.
Deaf people applaud by waving their hands in the air, as it has a greater visual impact than clapping the hands together.
Historically, a claque (French for "clapping") was an organized body of professional applauders in French theatres and opera houses who were paid by the performer(s) to create the illusion of an increased level of approval by the audience.
A recent phenomenon in Britain is the use of a minute's applause to indicate respect for a recently deceased person, which has come to replace the traditional minute's silence, especially at soccer matches.

Slow handclaps

  • In some cultures, slow, synchronized clapping by displeased audience members is considered not applause, but the opposite: a form of heckling, or an expression of mocking dislike or disapproval of the performer. The person being slowly clapped at may interpret the clap as an insult, and a sign to leave the stage. Comedian Fred Allen, in his book "Much Ado about Me," wrote that one noted Vaudeville house developed a rhythm ("clap, clap, clap clap clap"), the maddening repetition of which could completely unnerve a performer.
  • Another type of "slow handclap" is used as a dramatic device, often forming the conclusion of dramatic turning points in popular films. After some dramatic speech, one audience member claps slowly, then another, and then a few more, until the trickle of clapping gives way to a roaring applause, often ending in a standing ovation. This is also referred to as a crescendo applause, named for the increasing level of volume it produces.
  • During musical events it is common for an audience to clap to the rhythm of the song, to cheer the artists present on stage. Sometimes it is the artists themselves who invite the audience members to clap along. There are even songs which incorporate this kind of sound in the rhythm section, like Boston's "More Than a Feeling" and Queen's "We Will Rock You".
  • In some Latino and Hispanic cultures (e.g., Mexico, Spain, and some Central American countries,) a synchronized, slow handclap at the end of a musical performance signals the audience's desire for an encore.


applaud in Danish: Bifald
applaud in German: Beifall
applaud in Spanish: Aplauso
applaud in French: Applaudissement
applaud in Italian: Applauso
applaud in Hebrew: מחיאת כפיים
applaud in Japanese: 拍手
applaud in Sicilian: Plàusu
applaud in Simple English: Applause
applaud in Finnish: Suosionosoitukset
applaud in Swedish: Applåd
applaud in Chinese: 鼓掌

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abide by, accede, accept, acclaim, acquiesce, acquiesce in, agree, agree to, agree with, approve, assent, boost, buy, cheer, cheer on, clap, clap the hands, commend, compliment, comply, consent, cry, cry for joy, encore, eulogize, extol, give a cheer, give a hand, give the nod, glorify, hail, hear it for, hold with, hooray, hurrah, hurray, huzzah, in toto, laud, magnify, nod, nod assent, panegyrize, plug, praise, receive, recommend, root, root for, shout, shout hosanna, subscribe to, take kindly to, vote for, welcome, yell, yes, yield assent
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