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clout the nail or pin of the target: “he'll ne'er hit the clout,” LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, iv. 1. 127 ; “'a would have clapped i' the clout at twelve score” 2 HENRY IV., iii. 2. 45 (he would have hit the clout at twelve score yards); “i' the clout, i' the clout,” KING LEAR, iv. 6. 92. Says Gifford, “cloutis merely the French clou, the wooden pin by which the target is fastened to the butt. As the head of this pin was commonly painted white, to hit the white, and hit the clout, were, of course, synonymous; both phrases expressed perfection in art, or success of any kind.” Note on Jonson's Works, vol. v. p. 309. It is not safe to differ from Gifford, who may have had some authority for the above statement concerning the clout or pin. From the passages, however, which I happen to recollect in our early writers I should say, that the clout or pin stood in the centre of the inner circle of the butts,—which circle, being painted white, was called the white,—that to “hit the white” was a considerable feat, but that to“hit or cleave the clout or pin” was a much greater one,—though, no doubt, the two expressions were occasionally used to signify the same thing, viz., to “hit the mark.”

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    • William Shakespeare, King Lear, 4.6
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