Green’s Dictionary of Slang

clap n.

also claps
[OF clapoir, bubo; thus clapoire or clapier, a place of debauchery and the illness one can contract there. The term appears as SE in late 16C but starts appearing in cant/slang lists in late 17C; Henke, Gutter Life and Language (1988) quotes Cotgrave’s definition (in Dict. French and English Tongues, 1611) of clapier as a rabbits’ nest (as well as a name for ‘old time Baudie houses’); thus a pun on SE coney, rabbit/cony n. (2a) – a man might catch the disease from a cony n. (2b) who was working in a clapoir]

venereal disease, esp. gonorrhoea.

[UK]Hist. of Jacob and Esau V vi: The best ende of suretiship is to get a clappe.
[UK]‘Bashe Libel’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 77: Till at the last he caught a clapp / In Bever castle by the vale.
[UK]Nashe Death and Buriall of Martin Mar-Prelate in Works I (1883–4) 197: Martin your mast, alas hath caught a clap.
[UK]Chapman & Jonson Eastward Ho! V i: Fond fables tell of old / How Jove in Danae’s lap / Fell in a shower of gold, / By which she caught a clap.
[UK]T. Overbury New and Choise Characters n.p.: A Chamber-Mayde [...] If she catch a clap, she divides it so equally betweene the Maister and the Servingman.
[UK]J. Melton Astrologaster 51: There was not a Mayde that had not gotten a clappe before she was marryed.
[UK] ‘The Kind-Hearted Creature’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 90: This bonny Lass had caught a clap it seemes / by some young shaver.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) I iii: He confess’d, she cur’d him of three Claps before he married her.
[UK] song in Wardroper (1969) 205: Fond fables tell of old / How Jove in Danae’s lap / Fell in a shower of gold, / By which she caught a clap.
[UK]New Brawle 10: The best woman living, and the carefullest, may now and then get a clap, or a Disease from an unwholsom Knave.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 196: Two or three terrible Claps, which cost me a considerable sum in their cure.
‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue 7: It was her fortune to die of an outlandish Disease, which she got by a Clap of a French coultstaff.
[UK]S. Butler ‘Dildoides’ in Rochester & Others Works (1739) 185: Lechers, whom Clap or Drink disable, / Might here have Dildoes to their Navel.
[UK]J. Oldham ‘A Satyr’ Poems 171: To the whole Tribe would scarce a Tester give. But fifty Guinnies for a Whore and Clap!
[UK]Pagan Prince 4: This Tutor dy’d of a Clap which he got in his Old Age.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 14 Oct. n.p.: Her Mother [...] took her to a Midwife, who searched her, and found that she had been very much abused, and had got a great Clap, which the Prisoner had given her.
[UK]Farquhar Love and a Bottle I i: ’Tis less Slavery to be Apprentice to a famous Clap-Surgeon, than to a Lover.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I:9 6: Who had full Twenty Years in Town / Retail’d her Favours up and down, / ’Till she had burnt with Claps and P—xes, / More standing Ware than Sampson’s Foxes.
[UK]C. Shadwell Fair Quaker of Deal II i: There’s many a lad in the Navy gets a Clap before the Ships Moor’d.
A. Ramsay Lucky Spence’s Last Advice [ballad] On them that Drinks, and disna Pay, / But takes a Snack and rins away, / may't be their Hap / Never to want, a Gonorhaea / or rotten Clap.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy III 337: You’re all sent crawling to the Gravel-pits: / Pretending Claps, there languishing you lie.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 39: A certain Comedian, in his Days of Pleasure [...] found his Armour unfortunately attended by a Clap.
[UK]Proceedings at Sessions (City of London) Jan. 26/2: Advert for Dr. R. Nelson’s most sure, and long experienc’d Anti-Venereal Compound [...] For the true Cure of fresh CLAPS; (and all the lurking Relicks or Remains of old Ones) [...] In a very small space of time (living temperately) it rids away a mild CLAP.
[UK]W. Kennett ‘Armour’ in Potent Ally 3: The hot daring Youth [...] now tormented sore with scalding Heat / Of Urine, dread Fore-runner of a Clap!
[Ire]D. Bradstreet Life and Uncommon Adventures 29: Had it been something for a Cl-p or P-x it might do.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 87: For some bitch / Had given half the troops the itch; / And by a like unseen mishap, / The other half had got the cl—p.
[WI]J.B. Moreton West India Customs and Manners 28: The first symptom of a c--p is a prickling pain, and afterwards a scalding in making of water.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘A Sporting Surgeon’ Waterfordiana 15: A servant girl admitted the embraces of a gentleman, a casual acquaintance, who was suffering from gonorrhœa or clap.
[UK]Cythera’s Hymnal in Pearsall (1969) 375: Claps that set at nought and sold him, / Pox that burned him grievously.
[UK] ‘Julien’s Concert’ Pearl 13 July 11: The fingering of the double-bass she thought was rather slack, / And wondered Julien should engage a man who’d got the clap.
[UK] ‘The Bastard King of England’ in Bold (1979) 23: So he sent the Duke of Suffering Sap / To give the queen a dose of clap.
[US]H.V. O’Brien diary 11 Jan. Wine, Women and War (1926) 287: Physical exam — crabs, cooties and clap. Scared to death, but O.K.
[US]R. McAlmon Three Generations of the Same (1963) 102: I also got a dose of the clap.
[UK]B. Bunting The Well of Lycopolis’Complete Poems n.p.: ‘...I remember during the War / kids carrying the clap to school under their pinnies’.
L. Bogan ‘Till the Cows Come Home’ [song title] Every time I fuck the mens I give em the doggone claps.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 84: Everybody has the clap sometime or other. But not syph!
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 59: The girls stayed put until they ground out the thousand [dollars] or got a slap from Mr. Clap.
[US]C. Himes ‘Friends’ Coll. Stories (1990) 274: The whole tremendous length of it was hurting, burning as if he had the claps.
[UK]G. Fletcher Down Among the Meths Men 91: The Jock didn’t get his dose of clap from here; he’d had it before.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 213: I’d probably be dead right now of syph or clap.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 35: They’ve got some lovely diseases out there and the women are all riddled with the clap.
‘Ricki Francis’ Kings X Hooker 14: ‘I know ... by the time you were seventeen you already had your second dose of clap’.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 14: I happen to know that in Hollywood patrol right now the clap’s as common as a head cold.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We Have No 98: I caught my first dose of clap here.
[US] J. Wolcott 9 Aug. [Internet] It would send a bad message to the kids if one of the leading bloggers admitted to having a generous dose of the clap.

In compounds

clap-clinic (n.)

a clinic specializing in venereal diseases.

[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 179: So here’s our hero in the middle of all this [...] hoping to hell the Clap Clinic doesn’t call this week.
[UK]D. Jarman letter 12 Mar. Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 96: White-tiled and antiseptic, almost like the waiting room for the clap clinic.
(ref. to 1982) Anti-Nowhere League Official Site [Internet] The tour finished at the ‘Peppermint Lounge’ in New York which turned into a mass riot and we all ended up in the clap clinic.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 66: ‘Where are you off to?’ I ask [...] ‘Clap-clinic. Later, Anais’.
clap-shack (n.)

(US) a venereal disease clinic or hospital ward.

[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 280: The other three are in the clap shack at Silverstream Hospital.
[US](con. WWII) B. Cochrell Barren Beaches of Hell 38: Haven’t you spent enough time in the clap shack?
[US]W. Styron [play title] In the Clap Shack.
[UK](con. WWII) S. Hynes Flights of Passage 79: The flight was a unit and it couldn’t function [...] with one member in the clap shack.
J. McBride Frank Capra 121: The pharmacist directed him to a clap shack [...] It was run by a Scotsman who called himself a doctor but was actually a quack.
(ref. to WWII) C.H. Ramsay Boys of the Battleship N. Carolina 341: What did we call the hospital corpsmen?’ ‘Pecker checker.’ [...] What did we call chipped beef?’ ‘[...] ‘Shit on a shingle.’ [...] ‘How about that room in sick bay for nevereal disease? ‘You mean the clap shack’.
clap-trap (n.)

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

clap-shoulder (n.) [he claps a hand on one’s shoulder]

a bailiff or watchman.

[UK]J. Taylor in Nares (1822) 164: Clap-shoulder serjeants get the devil and all, / By begg’ring and by bringing men in thrall.
clap-trap (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

clap on the shoulder (n.)

an arrest for debt; note extrapolation in cit. c.1625.

[UK]Merry Knack to Know a Knave A3: And yet Honesty can clap a knaue on the shoulder for al his brauerie.
[UK]Rowley Woman never Vext 63: Your husband threatened to arrest us; my Shoulders love no such clapping.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser 7 Nov. 2/7: He gave him a clap on the shoulder and proceeded to handcuff him.