Cheer vs. Applause

01 September 2023

Hi there! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between "cheers" and "applause."


Hello VOA Learning English,

I am Sina from Iran. I have been learning English with your app for two years. I have a question:

What is the difference between "cheers" and "applause?"

Thank you.


Thanks for writing to us, Sina.

These two words can mean to express approval or excitement, but the way that these feelings are expressed is a little different.

Cheering uses your voice, and applauding uses your hands to clap and make a sound. But let's look a little closer at each.

"I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause, live for the-

Way that you cheer and scream for me

The applause, applause, applause..."

"Applause" is a noun that has two meanings. The first meaning is the approval or excitement marked by clapping hands together. The second meaning is the show of approval through praise or vocalizing.

Lady Gaga sang that she lives for the applause of her fans.

"Applaud" is the verb form and also has two meanings. When you applaud something, you are showing your approval or excitement by clapping your hands together. The verb can either take a direct object or not.

The crowd applauded the dancers during the show.

The audience applauded after the musical performance.

The second meaning of "applaud" is to praise or say that you like or agree with something that a person has done.

My professor applauded my work this year.

Let's move onto "cheer."

Much like "applaud," "cheer" as a verb means to show approval or excitement by vocalizing or shouting.

Parents cheered on their children at the soccer game.

To "cheer" also means to perform the act of cheerleading. Cheerleaders are people who lead the crowds at sporting events through cheering and applauding the teams. They encourage their team to win.

Kirstin cheered in school for the basketball team.

As a verb, "cheer" also means to be cheerful or to make glad or happy. We often use this verb with the preposition "up" in the command, "Cheer up!"

You look so unhappy, cheer up!

He cheered his girlfriend up with flowers.

Cheer is also a noun, and its meanings are closely related to the verb form.

"Cheer" is a shout of approval or excitement.

The cheers of the crowd grew louder as the football team started winning.

"Cheer" is the sport or activity of cheerleading.

There are different kinds of shoes needed in cheer depending on what position you are in.

"Cheer" also has other meanings as a noun, such as a mood or feeling, gladness or joy, or encouragement.

Holidays are a time for good cheer and making memories with family.

And we often say "cheers" before eating or drinking at a party or social gathering.

Cheers to the happy couple on their wedding day.

Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Sina.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

scream – v. to shout or cry out

praise – n. spoken or written words about the good qualities of someone or something: an expression of approval for someone or something

audience n. people who gather to watch a performance

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