Word of the Day


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


if something made of metal clangs, or if you clang it, it makes a loud sound

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The verb clang was first used in English in the 16th century. It comes from the Latin verb ‘clangere’ meaning to make a ringing sound. The related noun was first used in the following century.


If something made of metal clangs or you clang it, it makes a loud ringing sound. Clang is what is known as an ergative verb, meaning that it is both transitive and intransitive, and that when it is transitive, its object can be the same as its subject when it is intransitive. Things that typically clang or are clanged include bells, pots, gates and hammers. If a gate or door clangs open or clangs shut, it opens or shuts with a clanging sound. A clanger is an embarrassing mistake. This is an informal British term whose recorded use dates back only to the mid 20th century. To drop a clanger is to make an obvious and embarrassing mistake, similar to dropping a brick but more noticeable. The Clangers is a British animated children’s TV series about a race of small, pink, shrew-like creatures that live on a small rocky planet and communicate by whistling.


“Eating American-style, you put the knife down and clang. Continental is silent and efficient.”
(Letitia Baldrige)

“I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Alarms started clanging the day I signed to write ‘His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra’.”
(Kitty Kelley)

Related words

clank, clatter, crash

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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