From Middle English clucchen, clicchen, cluchen, clechen, cleken, from Old English clyccan (“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 clyccan 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 man may set the poles together in his head, and clutch the whole globe at one intellectual grasp.
- Is this a dagger which I see before me […] ? / Come, let me clutch thee.
- To grip or grasp tightly. [from 17th c.]
- She clutched her purse tightly and walked nervously into the building.
- Not that I have 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.]
- the clutch of poverty
- an expiring clutch at popularity
- Bishop Stillingfleet
- I must have […] little care of myself, if I ever more come near the clutches of such a giant.
- 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, chapter 57
- 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 between engine and gearbox in a car. [from 19th c.]
- The pedal in a car that disengages power transmission.
- 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.
- (US) An important or critical situation.
2004, Jonathan Beaty, S. C. Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of BCCI, page x:
- Adam Zagorin, Time's Brussels bureau chief, came through in the clutch several times with information and interviews we could not have gotten on our own.
2009, Michael Baron, When You Went Away, page 303:
- I knew right at that moment (though I certainly believed it before) that you were the kind of person who others could count on, a great foul-weather friend, someone who came through in the clutch.
2010 January 23, Pat Disabato, “Hillcrest kicks its late hiccups; Lead erodes until Tillman^s key 3; Waukegan, Richards, Julian win”, The Chicago Sun-Times, page 40:
- "I knew I had to take over," Loyd said. "When it comes to the clutch, I don't mean to be selfish, but I'm going to take it.
2010, Paul Sullivan, Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't:
- But that does not mean he will be clutch. Being great under pressure is hard work. This is part of the reason why we are so impressed by people who seem immune to choking. These people come through in the clutch when others don't.
- (small handbag): clutch bag
- (US, Canada) Performing or tending to perform well in difficult, high-pressure situations.
2006, Bryan Hogan, Three Days for Goodbye, 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, page 34:
- It doesn't get more clutch than that!
clutch (plural clutches)
- A brood of chickens or a sitting of eggs. [from 18th c.]
- A group or bunch (of people or things). [from 20th c.]
- “clutch” in The Bokmål Dictionary.
- “clutch” in The Nynorsk Dictionary.