verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- a mechanism for readily engaging or disengaging a shaft with or from another shaft or rotating part.Compare coupling (def. 2a).
- a control, as a pedal, for operating this mechanism.
QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!
Origin of clutch1
synonym study for clutch
OTHER WORDS FROM clutchclutch·ing·ly, adverbclutch·y, adjective
Words nearby clutch
Definition for clutch (2 of 2)
verb (used with object)
Origin of clutch2
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does clutch mean?
In slang, clutch refers to something done (well) in a crucial situation, such as a clutch play in sports that pushes a team into victory.
More broadly, clutch can characterize something as “excellent” or “effective.”
Where did the term clutch come from?
The word clutch is found in Middle English, meaning “to grasp something tightly,” especially in one’s metaphoric clutches, or “claws.” A woman’s clutch bag, or clutch, is recorded in the 1940s. It’s a small, usually strapless purse she must clutch to carry.
The slang modifier clutch, for “done well in a crucial situation,” appears to originate in sports, particularly baseball. A sports clutch, in noun form, is a high-pressure moment that can determine the outcome of a game. This dates back to at least the 1920s and is metaphorical (i.e., the moment at which something has or is in something’s clutch, or “grip” or “control”).
As Life magazine memorably used the term in 1951: “And when it came to the clutch, Johnny Mize, who was washed up five years ago, would crack out a pinch double, or Mickey Mantle, who is not yet ready for the big leagues, would slam out a home run.” Moments can be clutch, as can players, plays, or calls—they all make a difference at key points in a game, especially near the end.
Clutch evolved in the 1980–90s to mean something that happened exactly where and when you needed it (e.g., coming in clutch). Such a thing is extremely desirable, and so by extension, clutch came to mean “excellent” or “effective” more generally.
By at least 2010, video gamers turned clutch into a verb for winning a game under pressure, as in clutching is my favorite part of the game. This use of clutch is especially prevalent in first-person shooters such as CounterStrike, Call of Duty, and Fortnite, but it also surfaces in games like Pokémon.
How to use the term clutch
The everyday clutch is everywhere. If you’re clutching your pearls because you’re in the clutches of anger about the clutch of your manual transmission car, be sure not to drop your clutch.
The sports slang clutch is also everywhere, compelling a writer for sports website The Bleacher Report to call it “the most overused term in sports” in 2009. A player who clinches a win at the very last moment is said to have come in clutch. Another player could be said to amp it up in the clutch.
Lou Will: Forever Clutch 👌 pic.twitter.com/bIPrSvtCw5
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2018
Two #OKState returners and two clutch home runs.
— OSU Cowgirl Softball (@CowgirlSB) September 28, 2018
The broader slang clutch, for “great at just the right moment,” also commonly appears in the phrase come in clutch or come through (in the) clutch. It can also just be a modifier on it’s own (e.g., That pizza at 2am was so clutch).
I got leftover pizza at the crib #Clutch
— Slow Jams Dan (@WakeUpDanny) December 3, 2018
Gamers also use clutch to describe winning a tough game or tough round as having clutched it.
More examples of clutch:
“It was just the latest in an increasingly unbelievable series of clutch hits from the guy White Sox fans have fallen in love with during this rebuilding season. He now has 10 hits, two doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs in the ninth inning this season. Heck, it wasn’t even the first time he’s walked off these Indians this season.”
—Vinnie Duber, NBC, September 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for clutch
Larger tires provide more ground clearance, but also can make the machine more susceptible to tipping and can require a clutch kit to work properly.
The “necessity” argument may be clutching at straws for companies that, as many do, use their customers’ data for other purposes than the core services they provide.Time is running out for Big Tech’s monetization of Europeans’ personal data|David Meyer|September 10, 2020|Fortune
As briefly mentioned before, different displacements are also paired with clutch systems that accommodate the skill level of the intended rider.Your kid wants a dirt bike. Here’s what to buy them.|By Serena Bleeker/Dirt Rider|September 4, 2020|Popular Science
For his part, Anthony — who has redeemed himself in Portland after an abrupt exit from Houston, including by hitting a number of clutch triples late since the restart31 — said his bad-word boarding is mostly a way of hyping himself up.Carmelo Anthony’s On-Court Cussing Has TV Networks Playing Defense|Chris Herring (firstname.lastname@example.org)|August 18, 2020|FiveThirtyEight
The researchers analyzed a clutch of dinosaur eggs found in Mongolia.
Who knew that a competition where you clutch the hand of another man and lock eyes across a table could be this damn gay.High-End Pervs Film Benedict Cumberbatch and Reese Witherspoon Sucking Face|Amy Zimmerman|December 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Available at La Boîte SHOLDIT Clutch Wrap Purse, $70 We can all agree the dorky passport holders and money bags have got to go.The Daily Beast’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide: For the Anthony Bourdain in Your Life|Allison McNearney|November 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
At Oscar after-parties, movie stars clutch In-N-Out burgers in one hand and gilded trophies in the other.My Big, Buttery Lobster Roll Rumble: We Came, We Clawed, We Conquered|Scott Bixby|June 7, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Kentucky freshman sunk his third game-winning three-pointer in a row, launching fresh claims about his ‘clutch gene.’
Take those two years away, and his lifetime clutch rating is essentially zero.
While he stood, apparently quiescent, in the clutch of his adversary, he still held his hand on his sword.The Pastor's Fire-side Vol. 3 of 4|Jane Porter
It is probable he wished to provide written proof of a plea that he was an unwilling agent in the clutch of a mutinous army.The Red Year|Louis Tracy
Black Hood let the clutch slap in and the roadster bounded back onto the tarvia drive.
A quick impulse that was somewhat spasmodic impelled her fingers to close in a sort of clutch upon his hand.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories|Kate Chopin
And the nightmare clutch laid hold upon his heart with giant pincers.The Wave|Algernon Blackwood
British Dictionary definitions for clutch (1 of 2)
Word Origin for clutch
British Dictionary definitions for clutch (2 of 2)
Word Origin for clutch
Idioms and Phrases with clutch
see grasp (clutch) at straws.