In the dictionary

round of applause/cheers

a short period during which people show their approval of somebody/something by clapping

There was a great round of applause when the dance ended.

it seems that we often say "a round of applause/cheers" when people give a short period of clapping/ cheering.

Now, suppose a crowd gave a man a short period of booing, do we say "the crowd gave the man a round of boos"?

But we often say "a chorus of boos" and in the dictionary:

a chorus of something [singular] the sound of a lot of people expressing approval or disapproval at the same time.

So, "a chorus of boos" doesn't mean "a short period of booing"

Does "the crowd gave him a chorus of boos" roughly mean "the crowd gave him a round of boos"?


Do we say "the crowd gave him a round of boos"?

  • 2
    "a chorus of boos" does mean "a short period of booing". Dec 12, 2022 at 12:52
  • 1
    Yes. Even though "a chorus of something" doesn't necessarily mean it's short, "a chorus of boos" is short. It's an idiomatic meaning.
    – gotube
    Dec 12, 2022 at 16:25
  • 1
    We can perfectly well say 'a round of boos'. Dec 12, 2022 at 22:44
  • 2
    I think it would be more natural and simpler to say "The crowd booed the man". Since the verb exists, why not just use it?
    – Billy Kerr
    May 17, 2023 at 20:05
  • 1
    No, we don't "often say" a chorus of boos.
    – Lambie
    May 17, 2023 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


Short answer - no, "a round of boos" is not idiomatic. There may be one or two instances of the phrase to be found online, but these would seem to be a deliberate subversion of 'a round of applause'.

Applause and booing might be opposites in terms of the reaction they represent, but etymologically speaking they are very different and as words are not interchangeable, so it isn't a surprise you can't exchange them in the idiomatic phrase "a round of applause".

"Applause", as a noun, is sometimes described as the sound of clapping, but that is somewhat misleading because not all clapping is applause, and not all applause is clapping! Applause, as you probably realise, is related to the verb to applaud which means to express congratulations or appreciation. There are many ways to show this kind of appreciation. For example, sign languages for the deaf have visual, soundless expressions of appreciation. Words of appreciation can be considered applause. The singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt asks his audience to click their fingers as applause due to him having a hearing condition. Conversely, a 'slow handclap' is not an expression of appreciation, but rather an expression of annoyance. So while applause and clapping and somewhat synonymous, they are not the same thing.

"A round of applause", idiomatically means a period of expressing appreciation by clapping. Notably, it isn't called "a round of clapping". By contrast, booing actually is the sound, not the sentiment of contempt, scorn, or disapproval behind it.

So, you can see why 'boo' and 'applause' are not interchangeable in the way that 'clap' and 'boo' might be (ie the audience clapped, the audience booed). Further, an audience may be invited to give a round of applause, or a period of clapping. Booing is not usually invited in the same way (although one exception exists is in the British tradition of children's pantomimes where the young audience is encouraged to boo at the antagonists and cheer the protagonists). Booing is usually a spontaneous response to something disliked. In some cases, booing may continue until a performer leaves the stage (known as being 'booed off stage'), so there is no prescribed period or 'round'.

  • 1
    Things got a little tense during Britain's Got Talent 's third live semi-final, with some boos even filling the ITV studios at one point throughout the evening. National treasures Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were greeted by a round of boos from the audience following a shock announcement on stage. Daily Mirror (UK) 3 June 2022 He declared Manchester his second favourite city after Liverpool, which was met with a round of boos. Manchester Evening News 14 May 2022 The British prime minister then won himself a round of boos The Guardian 6 September 1999 Dec 12, 2022 at 21:16

"Round" correlates strongly with "applause", but less so with "boos".

"Chorus" correlates strongly with "boos", but not at all with "applause", because a "chorus" of something must come from the voice, but applause comes from the hands.

So while people do say "a round of boos", I think it's because they're mistakenly following the pattern from "round of applause".

  • See my comment above. I stopped at three quotes because the comment was running out of characters. Not all British by any means. Plenty of N American. United States President Barack Obama drew several standing ovations but also a round of boos from delegates to the American Medical Association’s annual meeting for expressing opposition to limits on jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. Canadian Medical Association Journal August 9 2009 Dec 12, 2022 at 21:27
  • @MichaelHarvey Thanks. I've improved my answer.
    – gotube
    Dec 13, 2022 at 8:51
  • Given the nature of the sources, are you completely sure 'a round of boos' is a mistake? Round: noun [C] (GROUP) a number of things or group of events: Russia and America will hold another round of talks next month. When we were young life was just one long round of parties/pleasure. Cambridge Dict. 12 : a prolonged burst (as of applause) Merriam-Webster Dec 13, 2022 at 9:30

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