applause n : a demonstration of approval by clapping the hands together [syn: hand clapping, clapping]
PronunciationIPA: WEAE /ʌˈplɔs/
Lestrade and I sat silent for a moment, and then, with a spontaneous impulse, we both broke at clapping, as at the well-wrought crisis of a play. A flush of colour sprang to Holmes's pale cheeks, and he bowed to us like the master dramatist who receives the homage of his audience. It was at such moments that for an instant he ceased to be a reasoning machine, and betrayed his human love for admiration and applause. The same singularly proud and reserved nature which turned away with disdain from popular notoriety was capable of being moved to its depths by spontaneous wonder and praise from a friend.
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Adventure of the Six Napoleons
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.
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.
- 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.
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
- A notable occurrence of a slow handclap took place during a speech made by British Prime Minister Tony Blair on 7 June 2000, when he was heckled and slow-handclapped by members of the Women's Institute. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/780486.stm (video)
- The first occurrence of this type of slow handclap in a movie was in Citizen Kane (1941).
- 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.http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-slow-clap.htm 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".
applause in Danish: Bifald
applause in German: Beifall
applause in Spanish: Aplauso
applause in French: Applaudissement
applause in Italian: Applauso
applause in Hebrew: מחיאת כפיים
applause in Japanese: 拍手
applause in Sicilian: Plàusu
applause in Simple English: Applause
applause in Finnish: Suosionosoitukset
applause in Swedish: Applåd
applause in Chinese: 鼓掌
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