\ˈklench \
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

About 20-30 percent of kids grind their teeth or clench their jaws. Mary Caldwell, ajc, "Is your child's teeth grinding normal?," 30 June 2018 Courtois bounced to his feet, clenched his fist and roared. Jonathan Wilson,, "Belgium's Golden Generation Shines Brightest in Ousting Brazil From World Cup," 6 July 2018 One whole page is filled with an oversize, hunched, anxious Porcupine, little paws seeming to flex and clench with existential dread. New York Times, "Brief Tales for New Readers and Little Listeners From Philip Stead and More," 29 June 2018 So can grinding and clenching your teeth, Dr. Cho says. Korin Miller, SELF, "5 Reasons Your Teeth Are So Agonizingly Sensitive," 18 Apr. 2018 His bare little hands were clenched against the cold. Brenda Cain,, "10-year-old Tiffany Everhart planning to help other children in need: A Greater Cleveland," 11 Apr. 2018 These veteran pilots build up a tolerance to the increased G force and learn tricks that help them tolerate it, like clenching their muscles. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "What It Feels Like to Fly a 565 MPH Fighter Jet," 21 Oct. 2015 An orb with sawtooth mouth clenches a snake, whose head disappears into a cut-out heart flecked with blossoms and flies. Leah Ollman,, "The disturbing meets the sweet in Alex Anderson's new sculptures at Gavlak," 4 July 2018 On the sidelines, England manager Gareth Southgate clenched his fists and was wrapped up in a joyous huddle by his assistant coaches. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "The World Cup’s Biggest Upset: England Wins on Penalties," 3 July 2018

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

28 Sep 2018

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 \
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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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).


one that holds something together

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