Green’s Dictionary of Slang

clout n.4

[generally assumed to have been coined c.1937 in Chicago and quickly disseminated across the US and thence the English-speaking world, but note mid-19C date based on a single citation. According to William Safire either f. baseball jargon clout, a big hit; thus one who ‘packs a punch’ in government, or clout v.2 (1), to steal (itself orig. f. clouter n.1 , a petty thief, lit. a handkerchief thief); thus a thief. In the cynical world of US politics all politicians tend to larceny]

(orig. US) influence, esp. in politics.

T.J. Whitman letter in Berthold & Price Dear Brother Walt (1984) 127: I suppose the political boiling is really more than felt in regard to office holding. I know lost [sic] of fellows in Brooklyn [...] that always think they are going to be deprived of office and ‘clout’ .
H.F. Gosnell Machine Politics 82: No one [...] gets anywhere in politics or business on his merits. He has to have the ‘clout’ from behind [DARE].
[US]Chicago Daily News 18 Feb. [headline] Honest Cops face ‘System’. Victim Pote had No ‘Clout’.
[US] N.Y. Times 28 July sec. 4 2: Israel was exercising all the diplomatic clout she could muster to bring outside pressure on the Algerian government.
[UK]Ink 12 June 5/2: France and other countries have large agricultural surpluses and farmers with electoral ‘clout’.
[US]G.V. Higgins Cogan’s Trade (1975) 39: I had some clout with the keepers.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 90: A bona fide movie mogul from Down Under with unlimited clout and financial resources.
[US]Snoop Doggy Dogg ‘Ain’t No Fun’ 🎵 It’s me, Warren G the nigga with the clout.
[Aus]G. Disher Deathdeal [ebook] ‘They’ve got clout. They’ll laugh in my face’.
[UK]Guardian G2 23 July 15: Few plays have the intellectual clout of Michael Frayn’s.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 23 Jan. 1: It’s not their industry clout that has changed the casting landscape.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 145: The dudes [I] got to say they got the most clout, the most reputation.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 330: All Red’s clout and political connections would be useless.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 286: You don’t by any chance think I’ve got any clout, do you? [...] Help get the databases?
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 14: My dad had film-biz clout.
[Aus]G. Disher Kill Shot [ebook] [A]lthough Sam Kramer looked like a retired accountant, he had clout. Everyone wary of him, inmates and prison staff alike.

In derivatives

clouthead (n.)

(US black gang) a fan, a groupie.

F. Stuart ‘Dispatches from the Rap Wars’ in 🌐 The guys have a term for these kinds of fans: cloutheads. The more popular you are as a drill rapper, the more clout you accumulate. The more clout you have, the more cloutheads—easily exploitable groupies—you have.

In phrases

on the clout (adj.)

(US und.) of a person in authority, susceptible to bribes.

[US]Chicago Trib. 10 Oct. n.p.: The hood has got a sheet and wants to give half a yard for a pass, but I'm not on the clout so I house him.