Green’s Dictionary of Slang

clout n.2

[ety. unknown; ? link to SE clout, a cloth, thus a ‘lump’ of material, thus any sort of lump; or link to SE clod. Note WWI Aus. milit. clout, a wound. Earlier use of sense 1 was SE]

1. a heavy blow; as the clouts, a heavy beating.

[UK]Tale of the Basyn (1836) xxiii: Lette go the basyn or thu shalled haue a clowte: He hit the wenche with a shevell aboue on the towte.
[UK] ‘Trial of Josph and Mary’ Coventry Mysteries (1841) 139: Lyfte up thi feet, sett forthe thi ton, Or be my trewthe thou getyst a clowte!
[UK]Hickscorner Bii: And with this dager thou shalte haue a cloute.
[UK]D. Lyndsay Satyre of Thrie Estaits II ii: Apoun thy craig tak thair ane clout!
[UK]W. Toldervy Hist. of the Two Orphans IV 102: She tipp’d him a clout; sink me fore and aft, if she did not.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 18: Neat milling this Round – what with clouts on the nob.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 110: Neat milling we had, what with clouts on the nob, / Home hits in the bread-basket, clicks in the gob, / And plumps in the daylights, a prettier treat / Between two Johnny Raws ’tis not easy to meet.
[UK]Leicester Chron. 30 July 1/3: He himself caught several of the ‘clouts’ which were liberally dealt on all sides.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 313/2: clout, coup de poing.
[US]J.W. Haley Rebel Yell and The Yankee Hurrah (1985) 210: Some of our men have been treated to ‘a clout in the head’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 May 10/2: Yah! bah! these ’ere nobs they all spout / Of the evils these heathens import, / And then if we gives one a clout / We’re collared and dragged up to Court.
[US]F.P. Dunne in Schaaf Mr Dooley’s Chicago (1977) 49: Ye’er respected grandfather [...] wud r-rise from th’ grave an’ fetch ye a clout in the job.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Oct. 14/2: Once ran a dingo down, and after the first clout I gave him he rolled over as if dead.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 71: An’ ef Trippit gits gay, hand him a clout.
[UK]N. Douglas London Street Games 37: D’ye want a claht over the jor? [Ibid.] 57: Charlie, Arlie stole some barley, / Out of a baker’s shop. / The baker came out and gave him a clout, / And made poor Charlie hop, hop, hop.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 114: If any o’ us said anything about me father she’d gi’e us a clout on the side ’o the ’ead.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Curbstone Philosophy’ in Short Stories (1937) 218: We piles in and we knocks de eight-ball for a goal and gives him de royal clouts.
[UK]P. Pringle Boy’s Book of Cricket 165: Mr. Dobson [...] gave it a clout that sent it soaring away.
[Can]R. Service ‘Local Lad’ in Rhymes for Reality (1965) 213: With a clumsy, lucky clout / He knocked the champion out.
[UK]K. Waterhouse There is a Happy Land (1964) 118: His fist had caught me a stinging clout over the forehead.
[Ire]E. Brady All in! All in! 119: Old Roger got up and he gave her a clout, / Gave her a clout, gave her a clout.
[UK]V. Bloom ‘Mashalaw’ in Touch Mi, Tell Mi 15: ’Im gi Kate one clout eena har side / Wid ’im left elbow.
[Ire]D. Healy Sudden Times 233: If I was to hit you a clout you’d remember, he said, and laughed.

2. aggression, power.

[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 101: It was a comfort, all of that power and precision and exquisitely greased clout.

In phrases

give someone the clouts (v.)

to hit, to beat up.

[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 132: They gave the guy the clouts.