A society of persons who club together, or form themselves into
a knot or lump. The word was originally applied to persons bound
together by a vow. (German, gelübde) (See Cards 4 clubs.)
“ was the era of chivalry, for bodies of men uniting themselves
by a sacred vow, gelubde, which word and thing have passed over
to us in a singularly dwindled condition, `club' we call it; and the
vow does not rank very high” —Carlyle: Frederick the Great vol
i. p 111
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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