What are the origins of clapping to show appreciation?

Well, what are they? Of course, clapping is universally used by people to show that they appreciate something. It can also be used to show approval, such as when the audience claps on a show such as Jerry Springer or Montel.

But what the origins of this? My guess is that clapping evolved as the most convenient method of making a sustained noise. The noise is easily heard by the person(s) being clapped, and from that they know how much people enjoyed whatever they were doing.

When did clapping first become common, and how did this happen?

Check out http://www.takeourword.com/Issue091.html and scroll to about the middle of the huge page. That article says the earliest reference to clapping may have been by Chaucer.

I agree with your theory on clapping as a tool for sustained noise. Showing appreciation is best done by howling and hooting like a complete dumbass. :smiley:

There are a few threads on the boards that address the issue, but I don’t know if an answer was ever produced.

The OED cites it at least as far back as Shakespeare thusly

Thanks for the answers, very interesting.