Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈkləch\

Simple Definition of clutch

  • : to hold onto (someone or something) tightly with your hand

  • : to try to hold onto someone or something by reaching with your hand

Full Definition of clutch

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to grasp or hold with or as if with the hand or claws usually strongly, tightly, or suddenly

  3. 2 obsolete :  clench

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to seek to grasp and hold <clutched at her hand>

  6. 2 :  to operate an automobile clutch

Examples of clutch

  1. I had to clutch the counter to keep from falling.

  2. The child clutched her mother's hand firmly.

  3. He had a book clutched in his hand.

Origin of clutch

Middle English clucchen, from Old English clyccan

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of clutch

take, seize, grasp, clutch, snatch, grab mean to get hold of by or as if by catching up with the hand. take is a general term applicable to any manner of getting something into one's possession or control <take some salad from the bowl>. seize implies a sudden and forcible movement in getting hold of something tangible or an apprehending of something fleeting or elusive when intangible <seized the suspect>. grasp stresses a laying hold so as to have firmly in possession <grasp the handle and pull>. clutch suggests avidity or anxiety in seizing or grasping and may imply less success in holding <clutching her purse>. snatch suggests more suddenness or quickness but less force than seize <snatched a doughnut and ran>. grab implies more roughness or rudeness than snatch <grabbed roughly by the arm>.

Rhymes with clutch




Definition of clutch

  1. 1 a :  the claws or a hand in the act of grasping or seizing firmly b :  an often cruel or unrelenting control, power, or possession <the fell clutch of circumstance — W. E. Henley> c :  the act of grasping, holding, or restraining

  2. 2 a :  a coupling used to connect and disconnect a driving and a driven part (as an engine and a transmission) of a mechanism b :  a lever (as a pedal) operating such a clutch

  3. 3 :  a tight or critical situation :  pinch <come through in the clutch>

  4. 4 :  clutch bag

13th Century

First Known Use of clutch

13th century

Other Automotive Terms




Simple Definition of clutch

  • : happening during a very important or critical time especially in a sports competition

  • : able to perform well in a very important or critical situation especially in a sports competition

Full Definition of clutch

  1. 1 :  made or done in a crucial situation <a clutch hit>

  2. 2 :  successful in a crucial situation <a clutch pitcher>

Examples of clutch

  1. She scored a clutch basket.


First Known Use of clutch





Definition of clutch

  1. 1 :  a nest of eggs or a brood of chicks

  2. 2 :  group, bunch

Origin of clutch

alteration of dialect English cletch hatching, brood

First Known Use: 1721

Other Birds Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up clutch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.