Is there a slight difference between power and clout in the context of a political influence?

For instance:

Asking China to help the euro world would give a non-eurozone nation the power to decide the fate of the currency

Is clout a perfect synonym of power in that context? Is the meaning the same? Is the level of language the same?

  • It's certainly not a "perfect" synonym, because clout is rather informal used in this way, and is somewhat negatively loaded. These connotations are avoided by the alternative ability, which I suggest is a perfect synonym in this context. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 16:35
  • @FumbleFingers 's comment is perfectly eligible for being a full answer
    – rds
    Commented Nov 18, 2011 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


Merriam Webster defines clout as "pull, influence". This distinguishes it by degree from "power"...if you have clout, you may be able to influence the person with the power. But if you have power, you don't need clout.

  • Conversely, it may be said if you have clout, you don't need power. Just sayin'....
    – JeffSahol
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 18:17
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    Well, I almost continued that clout could actually be better, because you don't have responsibility and accountability. There was a classic series called Yes, Minister which was basically about showing who was REALLY in power in the British government - the permanent civil service, and not the temporarily elected representatives... Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 18:36
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    -1 - this is a contrived distinction. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 19:20
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    Here's an interesting example: ACCESS TO POWER: BUILDING POLITICAL CLOUT FOR THE ARTS: nasaa-arts.org/Advocacy/Advocacy-Tools/advocate_access.pdf. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 19:37
  • Power, clout, influence, authority, control, etc. are all capable of being used to mean exactly the same thing. Of that (non-exhaustive) list, I'd say that influence is the best one for the "power by association" meaning you ascribe to clout. Some, of course, would say that even politicians don't have the real power - they've just got influence over the ultra-rich people who actually have it. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 20:43

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