1711, "an exclusive party of persons; a small set, especially one associating to arrogate power or privilege," from obsolete French clique, which meant originally (14c.) "a sharp noise," also "latch, bolt of a door," from Old French cliquer "click, clatter, crackle, clink," 13c., echoic. Apparently this word was at one time treated in French as the equivalent of claque (q.v.) and partook of that word's theatrical sense.
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