Green’s Dictionary of Slang

clout n.1

[14C SE clout, a piece of cloth; a handkerchief]

1. (UK Und., also snoot-cloot) a cotton handkerchief.

[UK]Skelton Elynour Rummynge line 143: Some with a sho clout Bynde theyr heddes about.
[UK]T. More Confutation of Tyndale Answer VIII Pt II 14: The beggwely knaue had stolen y clowtes.
[UK] ‘Gaberlunzie Man’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 4: Ill bow my leg and crook my knee, / And draw a black clout owre my ee.
[UK]Udall Ralph Roister Doister I v: I bring her a ring with a token in a clout.
[UK]Lyly Mother Bombie I iii: Ile no more dandle my daughter, shee shall prick on a clout till her fingers ake.
[UK]Shakespeare Hamlet II ii: Run barefoot up and down [...] a clout upon that head Where late a diadem stood.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle II ii: What dost thou go a-hawking after me with a red clout on thy finger?
[UK]Jonson Gypsies Metamorphosed 36: Ticklefoote has lost his Clowt he sayes with a three-pence and fower tokens in it.
[UK]Rowley Match at Midnight I i: A clout, a clout Sim.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 23 Feb. n.p.: Charles Unwin of Stepney , was Tryed for stealing a double Flaxen Clout, value 4 d.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK] ‘Disappointment’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) IV 79: Sissly had got a Cold I suppose, / And ’twixt her Fingers was blowing her Nose; / Harry [...] Lent her his Glove, to serve for a Clout.
[UK] ‘Lord Rochester against his Whore-Pipe’ Cabinet of Love (1739) 221: Have you forgot the double Clout, That lat’ly swath’d your dripping Snout?
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 9 Dec. 3/2: He found his Wife lying a-cross the Bed, with her Hands and Legs tied [and] a Clout thrust down her Throat, and another tied round her Head before her Mouth.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 28: Black Isaac could Bite a Clout, as dexterously as any File in Town.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 97: A Basket full of [...] Clouts, Slabbering-Bibs. [Ibid.] 151: Poor Gadbury trembled, and turned as white as a Clout.
[UK]Fielding Life of Jonathan Wild (1784) I 129: A neat double clout, which seemed to have been worn a few weeks only, was pinned under her chin.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 43: A Wipe or Clout; a Handkerchief.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxix: A Wipe, or Clout A Handkercher.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 218: In which he steep’d a dirty clout, / And wash’d the dust and dirt clean out.
[UK] ‘Dog & Duck Rig’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 80: For fear that some gallows old scout / If you at the spell ken can hustle, / Shou’d fix you in working a clout.
[UK] ‘How a Flat became a Prigg’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 21: His daddles clean, he’ll slip between / A croud, a clout he’ll nap unseen.
[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 292: Clout signifies a handkerchief.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 309: I press upon Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., his acceptance of my fogle, my wipe, my clout, my sneezer, politely termed a silk handkerchief.
[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 162/1: Clout – a cotton handkerchief.
[Ire]E.L. Sloan ‘Weaver’s Triumph’ in Crawford Domestic Industry in Ireland (1972) 85: He hemmed and he ha’d, and he swore it was shameless, / Syne oot wi’ his snoot-cloot and dighted his nose .
[UK]Liverpool Mercury 2 Dec. 3/1: In cant a handkerchief would be called a ‘billy’ [...] or a ‘Kent rag’; while in slang it would be called a ‘rag,’ a ‘wipe,’ or a ‘clout’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Exeter Flying Post 20 Apr. 6/6: ‘Clouts’ or white cotton ones [...] from the perquisites of the ‘Washer’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 378: In a brace of shakes all scamper pellmell within door for the smoking shower, the men making shelter for their straws with a clout or kerchief.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 2: Put that down, you Jack-a-Dandy, an’ take the old clout of a belcher off your neck.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. (also clort) clothing.

[UK]Skelton Magnyfycence line 1210: Nay, I tell thee, he maketh no dowtes To tourne a fole out of his clowtes.
[UK]T. Preston Cambyses B2: Gogs hart, I haue no money in purse, ne yet in clout.
[UK] in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 70: He was not much more than a span, / All in his clouts swadling.
[UK] ‘Fryar & Boye’ in Furnivall & Hales Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript of Loose and Humorous Songs (1868) 19: Hardly on him was left a clout / to wrap his belly round about.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 10 Oct. 36: We shall have some Young Prophetical Imposter [...] who is to declare some strange Wonder as soon as born, and to Prophesie in his Swadling Clouts.
[UK]Bailey (trans.) Erasmus’ Colloquies 285: Why all that Dress was nothing but a Cheat I had daub’d on with Paints [...] Birdlime, and Clouts dip’d in Blood.
[UK]Chickens Feed Capons 16: Yet for all this be but a Man of Clouts, a meer Sir-courtly-Nice.
[UK]Machine 12: I’d [...] even stitch Black Bess at Mother King’s, Nay, Moll herself, with all her Clouts and Rings.
Grannie M’Nab’s Lecture on Witless Mothers and their Dandy Daughters 4: These are they the fickle farmer fixes his fancy upon, a bundle of clouts, a skeleton of bones.
[UK] ‘Patent S--t-Pot’ in Cockchafer 34: She pull’d up her clouts where young Thomas was laid.
[UK] ‘A New Song on the Birth of a Prince of Wales’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 65: Then dress him out so stylish with his little clouts and cap.
[UK]M. Reid Scalp-Hunters II 164: He lay, back uppermost. He was naked to the breech-clout.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 70/2: Before her clouts had reached the ground they were on my arm, and a couple of ‘reefs’ brought the ‘poke’ within my grasp.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 44: He see right up her clouts for a split second.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 194: He still had his hand up her clout.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 39: Jackets, trousers, shirts and ties. The floor was deep in clouts which had been tried on and abandoned.
[US]C.M. Dean-Burrows I See Da Sea Rise 106: clort – cloth.

3. a sanitary towel or a nappy.

[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 30 20–27 Dec. 239: Mrs. Easy a Taylors Wife in Petticoat Lane, thickened her Plumb-porridge with her Tayle, and gleerd over her Christmas Pie with her Childs Shitten-clout.
[UK]Gossips Braule 6: Did not I bring you clouts ye Whore, lend ye money to pay for the washing of your lowsy Smock, and bring you a Posset with a pox to ye, and Bread for your Whores hide.
Select Queries 2 16: Whether Mrs. S- does not stop the Orifice of her C- with a Clout, to keep the old man her Husbands Rag out.
[UK] ‘A New-Years-Gift for the Rump’ Rump Poems and Songs (1662) II 4: You may have heard of the Politick Snout [...] But scarce of a Parliament in a shitten Clout.
[UK]T. Duffet Empress of Morocco Act III: Thus Orange looks new rub’d with piss-clout, Or scullions face besmear’d with Dish-clout.
[UK]Rochester ‘On Mrs Willis’ in Works (1999) 37: I’ll write upon a double Clout, / And dip my Pen in Flowers.
[UK] C. Sackville in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1963) IV 200: That blubber’d oaf, for two, dull, dribbling bouts, Maintains two bastards made of Jenny’s clouts.
[UK] ‘Night Ramble’ Harleian Mss. 7312.84: [She] chanc’d to spy a bloody Clout. G- w-s what’s this the whore roar’d out. Nothing said I but ragg of woman Whose Tayle to me of Late was Common In short ’twas nothing but her flowers.
[UK] ‘Lord Rochester against his Whore-Pipe’ Cabinet of Love in Rochester & Others (1720) 221: Have you forgot the double Clout, That lat’ly swath’d your dripping Snout?
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 143: As tight a Lass as ever Did use a Double Clout.
[UK]Art of Meditating over an House of Office 11: Nurses shall read Lectures upon Shitten Clouts.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 13 Apr. 151/2: I will see whether it be a Boy or a Girl; I took out a Pin and undid the Clout and found it to be a Girl.
[UK] ‘Rantin’ Dog The Daddie O’t’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) IV 274: O wha my baby clouts will buy?
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 37: With only a change of clouts, the son of don Rodrigo de Herrera was packed off in my name to another nurse, and my mother suckled her own and her master’s child.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 235: clout: n. Diaper.

4. the vagina; thus generic for women.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus 3 in Viz 98 Oct. 8: clout 1. n. Clunge (qv). 2. n. prop. South African lesbian rock band.
[US]Esquire 1 Sept. [Internet] Shortly going [...] hit AB1 for the boozual. Usually teaming with office clout. £50 and line of Meow on the table for the first one with smelly fingers.

In compounds

clout file (n.)

(UK und.) a stealer of handkerchiefs.

Life and Glorious Actions of [...] Jonathan Wilde 51: Clout Files or Pocket pickers of handkerchiefs only).

In phrases

top a clout (v.)

(UK Und.) to position a handkerchief in a victim’s pocket in readiness for removing it at an apposite moment.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 275: top to top a clout or other article (among pick-pockets) is to draw the corner of end of it to the top of a person’s pocket, in readiness for shaking or drawing, that is, taking out, when a favourable moment occurs, which latter operation is frequently done by a second person.