\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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from clench

clench noun

Synonyms for clench


cling (to), clutch, grip, hold

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clench

Statistics for clench

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clench

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!