Click vs. Clip

By Maeve Maddox

The following comment appeared in my Facebook news feed:

You have to clip on the picture to see [the complete image].

The context surely called for click, not clip.

Curious, I cruised the Web to see if I might find other instances of clip used in a context calling for click. I was surprised by how common the error seems to be. Here are just a few examples that I found:

To see a full side-by-side visual comparison of my standard vs responsive design home page as seen on my Android smartphone, clip on the image below.

If you would like to utilize the pictures I used in this activity, clip on the image below.

Please clip on the image above to download a freebie sample game.

Clip on the image or name of the image below to download a high resolution PNG file of that picture.

Clip on the image below for a look

A Google search brought up about 400,000 hits for the phrase, “clip on the image,” compared to 58,800,000 for the correct idiom, “click on the image.”

In the context of computing, click is used as both noun and verb.

As a noun, click refers to the act of pressing a button on a computer mouse:

How Many Calories are Burned with the Click of a Mouse?

What if a click of the mouse could save the environment?

Search for over 20,000 parts and place an order with the click of a mouse.

As a verb, click means, “to press a button on the mouse”:

New users: Click “Register.”

Right-click an empty spot on your desktop or in a folder of your choice.

Double-click the file to launch it.

The common meaning of clip, on the other hand, is, “to cut with scissors or shears.”

Hair, wool, grass, and various other things are clipped. In the context of media, the words clip and clipping have acquired specialized meanings.

In the old days, when printed publications dominated the media, people cut articles from newspapers and magazines and placed them in files or in scrapbooks. Artists and politicians were especially interested in tracking their publicity. The first agency for the purpose of collecting and organizing printed articles for clients was established in London in 1852.

In American usage, articles clipped from publications are called clippings; in British usage, they’re called cuttings.

Like click, clip has also become a computer term:

Sight is an iPhone-optimized app that lets you clip articles from any iOS app in one snap.

Quickly and easily clip articles, text, and images right into Evernote.

Web clipping is extracting static information from a Web site in order to display the data on a Web-enabled PDA.

In the context of computer use, click applies to the operation of a mouse.

Clip refers to some form of cutting.

One might clip an image to use it elsewhere, but one clicks on an image to enlarge it or download it.

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3 Responses to “Click vs. Clip”

  • ApK

    Like the earlier article on “forum” and “form,” this is another one that made me pause and think “Surely these two words are never confused..?!” I truly hope most of those misuses are simple typos or auto-correct errors rather than native English speaking computer users actually confusing the words.

    The article title did, however, remind me of the various web sites I’ve encountered that offer “Click or Clip Coupons,” meaning you can click on the coupon to redeem it online, or print it and clip it out to redeem it in a physical store. Now I have to wonder if some people read “Click or Clip” on those sites and somehow got it in their heads that it meant the terms were synonymous, like phone menus that tell you to press the “pound or hash key.”

  • Roberta B.

    A clip also is an attaching mechanism. For example, someone might clip on an ID tag for work, conference, or professional event. Could some of the confusion be from that usage?

  • Anne-Marie Shaffer

    The misuse of “clip” for “click” makes me think it might be a translation error for an ESL speaker like the famous translation error, “All Your Base Are Belong To Us”. Additionally, my husband has a video camera that says, “Please Hold Up” when you press the button to turn it off.

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