\ ˈklench How to pronounce clench (audio) \
clenched; clenching; clenches

Definition of clench

transitive verb

2 : to hold fast : clutch clenched the arms of the chair
3 : to set or close tightly clench one's teeth clench one's fists

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Other Words from clench

clench noun

Synonyms for clench


cling (to), clutch, grip, hold

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Examples of clench in a Sentence

He clenched his teeth and continued to look straight ahead. He clenched his fists in anger. She was angry and spoke quietly through clenched teeth. His jaw clenched and unclenched as he listened to the speech. She danced alone, with a rose clenched in her teeth. He was clenching a cigarette in his teeth.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Whimsical cartoons of tough guys, clenching cigarettes in steel-trap jaws. Kirk Johnson, New York Times, "He Couldn’t Refuse a Deathbed Plea. Now He’s Got 10,000 Pieces of Art.," 24 June 2018 Manafort sat at the defense table, at times clenching his jaw, and appearing to swallow hard. Catherine Herridge, Jason Donner, Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: Excitement in Manafort trial courtroom as jury deliberates," 20 Aug. 2018 But children said they were restrained by staff for actions such as clenching their fists or moving their hands. Joseph O’sullivan, The Seattle Times, "Report: Washington foster kids sent to Iowa were abused in facility run ‘like a correctional institution’," 17 Oct. 2018 The sheikh told about 1,400 delegates of his wishes in the morning, clenching his fist to make a point, or waving a finger for emphasis. Stephen Wade, The Seattle Times, "Olympic ‘kingmaker’ Sheikh Ahmad leaves to handle court case," 28 Nov. 2018 The gatherings blow across the projection, bouncing against the edges, loosening and clenching. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "‘Jennifer Steinkamp: Blind Eye’ Review: Exploring the Digital Landscape," 20 Aug. 2018 The mouth clenched tight around my nipple, light sucking on and sucking out. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Keira Knightley Just Criticized Kate Middleton for Hiding the Reality of Childbirth," 6 Oct. 2018 Her idea was to put the egg in and walk around all day with it in, which would lead to inappropriate muscle clenching, and that’s not how pelvic weights are meant to be used. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The internet’s favorite Goop critic Dr. Jen Gunter says ‘medical conspiracy theories’ are running amok online," 20 Aug. 2018 There's a reason your belly clenches at the sound of bad news. Jill Provost, Woman's Day, "End Digestive Problems for Good," 21 May 2012

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clench.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clench

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for clench

Middle English, from Old English -clencan; akin to Old English clingan to cling

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Statistics for clench

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clench

The first known use of clench was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for clench



English Language Learners Definition of clench

: to set (something) in a tightly closed position
: to hold (something) tightly


\ ˈklench How to pronounce clench (audio) \
clenched; clenching

Kids Definition of clench

1 : to hold tightly : clutch She clenched a pen in her hand.
2 : to set or close tightly “I'll sit and clench my teeth and never tell you one thing.”— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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More from Merriam-Webster on clench

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clench

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clench

Spanish Central: Translation of clench

Nglish: Translation of clench for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clench for Arabic Speakers

Comments on clench

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


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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