What is the origin of applause? (Thinkstock)
What is the origin of applause?
Lexile

You asked us, what is the origin of applause?

Well, it's impossible to know exactly when people first started clapping, though it's definitely an ancient and widespread behavior and it had certainly caught on by the time of the Roman Empire, when crowds would clap, snap, and wave the edge of their togas to let rulers know exactly where things stood.

Some of those rulers weren't above hiring professionals, either, people who literally clapped for their dinner to manipulate crowd reactions.

Speaking of trained monkeys, we're not the only species that put our hands together. Other great apes like gorillas, chimps and orangutans sometimes clap their hands to draw attention.

But applause -- clapping as a sign of approval or joy -- is actually a learned behavior, and for the most part, it seems to be limited to humans.

Bravo to us humans. For more stories like this, check us out every day at Smithsonian.com.


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COMMENTS (26)
  • NickB-2
    3/20/2015 - 11:28 a.m.

    This article is about applause. Applause probably originated around the Roman Era, but it's impossible to be sure. Empires would even hire people to clap in a croud to trigger a reaction. However, we are th only species who claps to show appreciation. I think this is interestong, but the article wasn't particularly informative.

  • im2001moobys
    3/20/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    What if clapping or applausing is, like , bad and it's really negative, but we don't know that because this have diffrent contexts or connotation and stuff like that. If we could go back and find out the origin of clapping I thiink it'd be actually means something bad, like a ancient middle finger. Speaking of such how did the middle finger get it's bad meaning?

  • TreyvaunT
    3/20/2015 - 01:54 p.m.

    I always wanted to know where the applause came from. Like how it just randomly started, and everyone did it. I also wanted to know where or who thought of the high five.

  • daynaf-Koc
    3/20/2015 - 03:31 p.m.

    This is very interesting, especially when people clap for their food. I do that sometimes when I am really hungry and the food brought to me is something I have not had in a long time and look forward to devouring.

  • SydneeF-Kut
    3/22/2015 - 09:40 a.m.

    I never really thought about where it came from. all i know is everyone does it at, sports games, movies, performance's, concerts, and speeches. i wish we could know who was the VERY first one to applaud. iI really liked this article.

  • juanc-Koc
    3/22/2015 - 08:47 p.m.

    When you are doing a presentation ,you expect a applause because that signifies you did a great job. That's just better than complete silence and walking back debating if that was horrible.

  • havenr-Koc
    3/22/2015 - 09:09 p.m.

    I would think that clapping your hands together would have been founded in the caveman days. If apes know how to clap then i'm sure that cavemen might have learned it from them or founded it themselves. That we will never know but it's fun to think about!

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    3/22/2015 - 09:10 p.m.

    I know that it's weird, but always feel really awkward clapping for people. I always feel like people will judge me for how I clap. I really don't even know. Now I really wonder who invented the idea of clapping for other people in applause and gratitude.

  • coreyong-Koc
    3/22/2015 - 11:21 p.m.

    Disney didn't announce any details on the sequel's plot or a release date, but said directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck will be returning.
    Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co. chief executive and John Lasseter, head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, joined in officially announcing "Frozen 2" at the company's annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco.
    "We enjoyed making Frozen Fever so much and being back in that world with those characters," said Lasseter. "Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have come up with a great idea for a sequel and you will be hearing a lot more about it and we're taking you back to Arendelle."
    Though a sequel was always only a matter of time, fans have waited eagerly for the announcement. Most big box-office hits generate sequel announcements within weeks of opening.
    But any delay in a "Frozen" sequel has been easily assuaged by the film's unabated popularity. "Frozen" is by far the biggest grossing animated film ever and its soundtrack, led by Idina Menzel's "Let it Go," remains ubiquitous. A "Frozen" short is to play in front of Disney's latest release, the live-action "Cinderella."

  • jorgeh-Koc
    3/23/2015 - 01:15 a.m.

    Its crazy to not know where applausing originated at. Did we just all know about it already or what? Applauding seams to be the same for everyone around the world where did it come from?

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