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verb (used with object)
  1. to close (the hands, teeth, etc.) tightly.
  2. to grasp firmly; grip.
  3. clinch(def 1).
  4. clinch(defs 2–4).
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verb (used without object)
  1. to close or knot up tightly: His hands clenched as he faced his enemy.
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  1. the act of clenching.
  2. a tight hold; grip.
  3. something that clenches or holds fast.
  4. clinch(defs 9, 11, 12).
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Origin of clench

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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for clench


verb (tr)
  1. to close or squeeze together (the teeth, a fist, etc) tightly
  2. to grasp or grip firmly
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  1. a firm grasp or grip
  2. a device that grasps or grips, such as a clamp
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noun, verb
  1. another word for clinch
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Word Origin

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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper