From Middle English clucchen, clicchen, cluchen, clechen, cleken, from Old English clyċċan (“to clutch, clench”), from Proto-Germanic *klukjaną, from Proto-Germanic *klu- (“to ball up, conglomerate, amass”), from Proto-Indo-European *glew- (“to ball up; lump, mass”). Cognate with Swedish klyka (“clamp, fork, branch”). The noun is from Middle English cleche, cloche, cloke ("claw, talon, hand"; compare Scots cleuk, cluke, cluik (“claw, talon”)), of uncertain origin, with the form probably assimilated to the verb.
Alternative etymology derives Old English clyċċan from Proto-Germanic *klēk- (“claw, hand”), from Proto-Indo-European *glēk-, *ǵlēḱ- (“claw, hand; to clutch, snatch”). If so, then cognate with Irish glac (“hand”).
- To seize, as though with claws. [from 14th c.]
- to clutch power
- a. 1700, Jeremy Collier, A Thought
- A man may set the poles together in his head, and clutch the whole globe at one intellectual grasp.
- c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene i], page 136, column 1:
- Is this a Dagger, which I ſee before me, [...] ? / Come, let me clutch thee: / I haue thee not, and yet I ſee thee ſtill.
- To grip or grasp tightly. [from 17th c.]
- She clutched her purse tightly and walked nervously into the building.
- c. 1596, William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene ii], page 8, column 1:
- Not that I haue the power to clutch my hand,
clutch (plural clutches)
- The claw of a predatory animal or bird. [from 13th c.]
- (by extension) A grip, especially one seen as rapacious or evil. [from 16th c.]
- 1676, Ed[ward] Stillingfleet, “An Answer to T[homas] G[odden]’s Charge of Contradictions, Paradoxes, Reproach of the Second Council of Nice, School Disputes; and to His Parallel Instances”, in A Discourse Concerning the Idolatry Practised in the Church of Rome, […], London: […] Robert White for Henry Mortlock […], OCLC 863361141, part II (Being a Particular Defence of the Charge of Idolatry against the Church of Rome in the Worship of Images), page 786:
- I muſt have great leiſure, and little care of my ſelf, if I ever more come near the Clutches of ſuch a Giant, who ſeems to write with a Beetle inſtead of a Pen; […]
- 1785, William Cowper, “Book V. The Winter Morning Walk.”, in The Task, a Poem, […], London: […] J[oseph] Johnson; […], OCLC 228757725, page 197:
- Should when he pleaſes, and on whom he will / Wage war, with any or with no pretence / Of provocation, giv'n or wrong ſuſtained, / And force the beggarly laſt doit, by means / That his own humour dictates, from the clutch / Of poverty, that thus he may procure / His thouſands weary of penurious life / A ſplendid opportunity to die?
- 1831, Thomas Carlyle, chapter III, in Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh. […], London: Chapman and Hall, […], OCLC 614372740, book first, page 12:
- The more cunning heads thought it was all an expiring clutch at popularity, on the part of a Minister, whom domestic embarrassments, court intrigues, old age, and dropsy soon afterward finally drove from the helm.
- 1919, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, chapter LVII, in The Moon and Sixpence, [New York, N.Y.]: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers by arrangement with George H. Doran Company, OCLC 365836, page 303:
- You scold yourself; you know it is only your nerves—and yet, and yet … In a little while, it is impossible to resist the terror that seizes you, and you are helpless in the clutch of an unseen horror.
- A device to interrupt power transmission, commonly used to separate the engine and gearbox in a car. [from 19th c.]
- The pedal in a car that disengages power and torque transmission from the engine (through the drivetrain) to the drive wheels.
- Any device for gripping an object, as at the end of a chain or tackle.
- A small handbag or purse with no straps or handle.
- (small handbag): clutch bag
- A brood of chickens or a sitting of eggs. [from 18th c.]
- 1976, Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Kindle edition, OUP Oxford, published 2016, page 82:
- For instance, baby chicks influence their mother’s behaviour by giving high piercing cheeps when they are lost or cold. This usually has the immediate effect of summoning the mother, who leads the chick back to the main clutch.
- A group or bunch (of people or things). [from 20th c.]
clutch (plural clutches)
- (US) An important or critical situation.
- 1985 June 1, Johannes Telesaar, “Camarillo Loses in the 4-A Final by a Foot at First”, in Los Angeles Times:
- He is the player who has come through so often in the clutch during his days at Camarillo.
- 2016 May 1, Frank Bruni, “Jodie Foster Is Still Afraid of Failure”, in The New York Times:
- But not just strong women: women who don’t turn to a man in the clutch; women whose strength is inseparable from the walls they’ve built around themselves.
- A difficult maneuver
- (US, Canada) Performing or tending to perform well in difficult, high-pressure situations.
- 2006, Bryan Hogan, Three Days for Goodbye[books.google.com/books?isbn=0595380379], page 19:
- NC State made the most of their overtime possession scoring a touchdown on some very clutch plays.
- 2009, Scott Trocchia, The 2006 Yankees: The Frustration of a Nation, A Fan's Perspective, page 21:
- I start with his most obvious characteristic: he was clutch. He is Mr. Clutch. In the last chapter I mentioned that Bernie Williams was clutch, which was a valid assessment, but nobody on the Yankees was as clutch as Jeter was.
- 2009, Mark Stewart, Clutch Performers[books.google.com/books?isbn=0836891589], page 34:
- It doesn't get more clutch than that!
- clutch at OneLook Dictionary Search
- clutch in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- “clutch” in The Bokmål Dictionary.
- “clutch” in The Nynorsk Dictionary.
clutch m (plural clutches)
- Alternative form of