clip = hug, embrace (Nabokov)

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
English UK
Reading Lolita on holiday last week (I know, I know, I should have read it years ago:eek:) I was intrigued by the word "clip" in this sentence:
Innumerable lovers have clipped and kissed on the trim turf of old-world mountainsides, on the innerspring moss, by a handy, hygienic rill, on rustic benches under the initialed oaks, and in so many cabanes in so many beech forests.
Then, on my return home, I came across an article in the local paper describing a tradition called "clypping", in which rustic villagers join hands to encircle a church (possibly simultaneously quaffing cider - that part wasn't mentioned....).

So I looked "clip" up in the OED, and found this definition: 1. a. trans. To clasp with the arms, embrace, hug. arch. and dial.

My question is twofold: would everyone else have known that Nabokov meant "hugged" or "embraced" when he wrote "clipped"?

And does anyone actually use "clip" with this meaning?
Last edited:
  • GretchenPlay

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, NZE
    I recently read Lolita too (loved it and am glad I read it at the age I am now, and not years ago as I may not have appreciated Nabokov's wonderful humour and delightful language at a younger age), and I noticed that word too. I didn't give it too much thought though, assuming from the context that it meant something like 'hug' or perhaps something 'naughtier'.

    So, in answer to your question, I think that I would have guessed that clipped meant something like hugged, but would never truely have known. And I have never heard that word used before in that sense before.


    Senior Member
    English English
    I hope I will have been able to guess at something like 'clasp' in my several readings of Lolita, Mrs.L. But no, I've not been aware of it, let alone use it.


    Senior Member
    British English
    If you hadn't given that quote as an example, I would never have guessed that "clip" could have that meaning. To think of all those times when I was young and wayward and got a good hug round the ear......


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I'm familiar with 'clip' in older works, from Middle English to perhaps Restoration; I wouldn't think it was normal English after about 1800. It seems a conscious archaism in the Nabokov.
    < Previous | Next >