I've been spending some time on a home repair forum and I keep coming across the word clad used in the imperative or present tense active form.


  • Clad your home in brick.
  • He clads his home in brick.

This feels very wrong to me, but I don't know why. Previously, I've only ever seen the verb used passively or as an adjective or noun.


  • The home was clad in brick.
  • The home was brick-clad.
  • Brick cladding covered the home.

And now I've typed clad so many times all the forms sound strange to me! What are the rules for this word?

  • From etymonline: clad an obsolete past tense for clothe. So etymologically it should be clothe your house in brick, which doesn't sound any better. May 13, 2016 at 19:26
  • I doubt that one person in a hundred who uses clad knows that it's an archaic past/past participle of the verb clothe; and that one person is probably going to resist using clothe in the sense "provide with cladding". So it's perfectly natural that anybody finding a need for an active verb meaning "provide with cladding" should recategorize clad to meet that need. ... or, more simply, what Peter Shor says. May 13, 2016 at 19:27
  • @PeterShor: that's exactly my problem. I feel that clad is wrong, but I can't come up with any versions I like better. If I had to use an active verb in the present tense, I'd probably use cover. But that's a different verb altogether!
    – dnagirl
    May 13, 2016 at 19:28
  • 2
    The verb "clad" (meaning to encase a structure), has a full paradigm, so your examples are fine, It is widely used in the construction industry.
    – BillJ
    May 13, 2016 at 19:59
  • @PeterShor Apparently, it wasn't only a past tense. Edmund Spencer used it as a present tense verb "to clad". I have found several instances. "to clad his corpse with meete habiliments", "Him in deares skin to clad". I got several hits from Scottsmen throughout the centuries. Mostly poetic, but then brickmasons didn't contribute much of the corpus. It has been a standard verb in industrial processes for a long time.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 13, 2016 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


There is a contemporary vernacular usage generally meaning "clothed", though it can also mean "covered" which would be closer to the usage you are describing.

There is also a jargon term in construction meaning "to cover one material with another". Being an industry term, and with a vastly more common usage that is similarly specific, this usage seems correct but sounds odd to me as well.

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