• A body of hired applauders at a theater, etc. The practicewas first systematized by a Monsieur Sauton, who in 1820 established inParis an office to secure the success of dramatic performances. Themanager ordered the required number of claqueurs, who weredivided into commissaires, who committed the piece to memoryand noisily pointed out its merits; rieurs, who laughed atthe puns and jokes; pleureurs, chiefly women, who held theirhandkerchiefs to their eyes at the emotional parts; chatouilleurs,whose role was to keep the audience in good humour; and bisseurs,who were to cry bis or encore.

    Claque is also the French for an opera-hat, and theword was sometimes used in this sense by 19th-century English writers.