Posted by Masakim on December 10, 2002
In Reply to: The clappers posted by Woodchuck on December 10, 2002
: : : : What is the derivation of "going like the clappers"
: : : My references say that is US Black, circa 1920+ in origin, and is related to enthusiastic clapping during Gospel Services. I find this only just plausible. Any other offers?
: : I always thought it was to do with bells - the frantic movement of a clapper inside a vigorously rung bell. Mind you, this may just be me being delusional...
: It may be, but sometimes fantasy and reality converge. I think going or throbbing "like the hammers of Hell" (as in bellhammers) is a related phrase.
clappers, like the. 'Very fast, or very hard (e.g. "run like the clappers"; or "the clappers of hell").' Gerald Emanuel, letter of March 29, 1945: C. 20; since ca. 1925, much used by the R.A.F. As _clapper_ suggests _bell_, so _hell_ rhymes on _bell_: and _go like hell_ is to run very hard indeed.
From _A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English_, Volume II: The Supplement