Origin of clutch

1175–1225; Middle English clucchen, variant of clicchen, Old English clyccan to clench
Related formsclutch·ing·ly, adverbclutch·y, adjective

Synonyms for clutch

Synonym study

1. See catch.




a hatch of eggs; the number of eggs produced or incubated at one time.
a brood of chickens.
a number of similar individuals: a clutch of books; a whole clutch of dancers.

verb (used with object)

to hatch (chickens).

Origin of clutch

1715–25; variant of cletch (now dial.); akin to Scots cleck to hatch < Old Norse klekja to hatch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clutch

Contemporary Examples of clutch

Historical Examples of clutch

  • For the hand he held was shaking like some slender-stalked lily in the clutch of the sirocco.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • There was a clutch on her throat just then, which would not relax at the call of her will.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • "Brake foot, clutch foot," said Johnny, and closed his eyes again.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The most easy to understand is the clutch, a model of which I have on the table.

  • The old hands stretched out as if to clutch hers--then fell inert.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for clutch




(tr) to seize with or as if with hands or claws
(tr) to grasp or hold firmly
(intr usually foll by at) to attempt to get hold or possession (of)


a device that enables two revolving shafts to be joined or disconnected as required, esp one that transmits the drive from the engine to the gearbox in a vehicle
a device for holding fast
a firm grasp
a hand, claw, or talon in the act of clutchingin the clutches of a bear
(often plural) power or controlin the clutches of the Mafia
Also called: clutch bag a handbag without handles

Word Origin for clutch

Old English clyccan; related to Old Frisian kletsie spear, Swedish klyka clasp, fork




a hatch of eggs laid by a particular bird or laid in a single nest
a brood of chickens
informal a group, bunch, or cluster


(tr) to hatch (chickens)

Word Origin for clutch

C17 (Northern English dialect) cletch, from Old Norse klekja to hatch
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 clutch

Old English clyccan "bring together, bend (the fingers), clench," from PIE *klukja- (cf. Swedish klyka "clamp, fork;" related to cling). Meaning "to grasp" is early 14c.; that of "to seize with the claws or clutches" is from late 14c. Sense of "hold tightly and close" is from c.1600. Influenced in meaning by Middle English cloke "a claw." Related: Clutched; clutching.


"a brood, a nest" in reference to chickens, eggs, 1721, from clekken "to hatch" (c.1400). Said by OED to be apparently a southern England dialect word. Cf. batch/bake. Probably from a Scandinavian source (e.g. Old Norse klekja "to hatch"), perhaps of imitative origin (cf. cluck (v.)).


"a claw, grip, grasp," c.1300, from cloche "claw," from cloke (c.1200), related to clucchen, clicchen (see clutch (v.)). Meaning "grasping hand" (1520s) led to that of "tight grasp" (1784). Related: Clutches.


movable mechanical part for transmitting motion, 1814, from clutch (v.), with the "seizing" sense extended to "device for bringing working parts together." Originally of mill-works, first used of motor vehicles 1899. Meaning "moment when heroics are required" is attested from 1920s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with clutch


see grasp (clutch) at straws.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.