verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to close or knot up tightly: His hands clenched as he faced his enemy.


Origin of clench

1200–50; Middle English clenchen; compare Old English beclencan hold fast
Can be confusedclench clinch

Synonyms for clench Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for clench

clamp, clutch, clasp, grip, clinch, contract, grapple, constrict, hold

Examples from the Web for clench

Contemporary Examples of clench

Historical Examples of clench

British Dictionary definitions for clench


verb (tr)

to close or squeeze together (the teeth, a fist, etc) tightly
to grasp or grip firmly


a firm grasp or grip
a device that grasps or grips, such as a clamp

noun, verb

another word for clinch

Word Origin for clench

Old English beclencan, related to Old High German klenken to tie, Middle High German klank noose, Dutch klinken rivet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for clench

Old English (be)clencan "to hold fast, make cling," causative of clingan (see cling); cf. stench/stink. Related: Clenched; clenching.


"part of a nail that clinchers," 1590s, from clench (v.). Meaning "a grasp, grip" is from 1779.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper