click, noun

Forms:
Also (rarely) klick.
Origin:
EnglishShow more Special sense of general English click ‘a slight, sharp, hard, non-ringing sound of concussion’ (OED).
Any of a group of speech sounds of the Khoisan languages (and some of the Nguni languages, particularly Xhosa) formed on an ingressive air stream and caused by the sudden withdrawal of the tongue from the part of the mouth with which it is in contact; clack; clap noun3 sense 1; cluck. Also attributive. See also clacking, clock.
1829 C. Rose Four Yrs in Sn Afr. 164After repeated attempts, we failed in giving the true pronunciation to their names; which was, in truth, no easy thing, many of their words commencing with a click, a kind of sound in the throat, that mingles with the syllable.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 102In the Zoolu, the clicks are far less frequent...It is considered by those competent to judge, as at least a purer language than the Kafir, if not that from which it was originally derived.
1838 J.E. Alexander Exped. into Int. I. 193The Great Namaquas use the very same clicking dialects as the Little Namaquas do. Almost every word has an initial click, or has one in the middle of it, and some words have two clicks. The clicks are of three kinds.
1846 R. Moffat Missionary Labours 2Their language..has, in addition to the klick of the Hottentot, a croaking in the throat.
1853 F.P. Fleming Kaffraria 94Speaking of their language..it is soft and melodious in its sound, which is only marred by what are called ‘the Clicks.’ These are peculiar sounds given to the pronunciation of the three letters, c, q, and x, whenever they occur.
1862 Lady Duff-Gordon Lett. from Cape (1925) 103They had just printed their first book in the Kafir language..a beautiful language, like Spanish in tone, but with a queer ‘click’ in it.
1871 J. Mackenzie Ten Yrs N. of Orange River 492What Europeans know as ‘clicks’, are to be found in all the languages of the Hottentot family. Three-fourths of the syllabic elements of the Hottentot language are said to begin with clicks.
1889 F. Galton Trav. in S. Afr. 11The ’Nara, with long runners, covered numerous sand hillocks. [Note] The comma before N means that the letter is preceded by a Hottentot click.
1906 J. Stewart Outlines of Kaffir Grammar 1Three letters known in Kaffir as Clicks are c, q, and x; while r is a guttural.
1914 L.H. Brinkman Breath of Karroo 153He knew several Bushman caves in the surrounding hills, and could speak their language, with its peculiar clicks, fluently.
1937 H. Sauer Ex Afr. 4The language spoken by these little yellow men consisted of a series of ‘clicks’ in different intonations, quite impossible to imitate and still more impossible to reduce to writing.
1948 O. Walker Kaffirs Are Lively 113How explosive sounded the Xhosa clicks as I stood for the opening of Bunga.
1968 New Scientist 29 Feb. 456The click-speaking Bushmen and Hottentots.
1971 S. Afr. Panorama Dec. 1The complicated click-studded language of South Africa’s oldest and longest surviving primeval inhabitants, the Bushmen.
1981 J.B. Peires House of Phalo 24One sixth of all Xhosa words contain clicks. Very few of these have Zulu cognates, which suggests that most of the linguistic changes took place after the Nguni settlement of the coastal region.
1990 New African 18 June 12Makeba won the hearts of Americans through her dance tune ‘Pata Pata’...Her version of the ‘click song’ also became an international hit.
1992 V. Mayekiso in Focus on Afr. Apr.June 51The Xhosa language has almost 2500 words that have clicks, a sixth of the language; the Zulu language, whose nation abuts the land of the Xhosas, has 400 words that use clicks. The Sothos also have clicks whose frequency diminishes in direct proportion to the increase in distance.
Any of a group of speech sounds of the Khoisan languages (and some of the Nguni languages, particularly Xhosa) formed on an ingressive air stream and caused by the sudden withdrawal of the tongue from the part of the mouth with which it is in contact; clack; clapnoun1; cluck. Also attributive.
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