View synonyms for clutch



[ kluhch ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to seize with or as with the hands or claws; snatch:

    The bird swooped down and clutched its prey with its claws.

  2. to grip or hold tightly or firmly:

    She clutched the child's hand as they crossed the street.

    Synonyms: hug, clench, hold, clasp, grasp

  3. Slang. to spellbind; grip (a person) emotionally; hold the attention, or interest of:

    Garbo movies really clutch me.

verb (used without object)

  1. to try to seize or grasp (usually followed by at ):

    He clutched at the fleeing child. She clutched at the opportunity.

  2. Slang. to become tense with fright; panic (sometimes followed by up ):

    I clutched up on the math exam.

  3. to operate the clutch in a vehicle.


  1. the hand, claw, etc., when grasping.
  2. Usually clutches. power of disposal or control; mastery:

    She fell into the clutches of the enemy.

  3. the act of clutching; a snatch or grasp.
  4. a tight grip or hold.
  5. a device for gripping something.
  6. Automotive, Machinery.
    1. a mechanism for readily engaging or disengaging a shaft with or from another shaft or rotating part. Compare coupling ( def 2a ).
    2. a control, as a pedal, for operating this mechanism.
  7. Sports. an extremely important or crucial moment of a game:

    He was famous for his coolness in pitching in the clutch.

  8. any critical position or situation; emergency:

    She kept complete control in the clutch.

  9. Also called clutch bag,. a small purse that can be carried in the hand and usually has no handle or strap.


  1. done or accomplished in a critical situation: Without a couple of clutch heals, we would've had a party wipe in that dungeon.

    He sank a clutch shot that won the basketball game.

    Without a couple of clutch heals, we would've had a party wipe in that dungeon.

  2. dependable in crucial situations:

    a clutch player.

  3. accomplished at the last possible moment or against the odds:

    Phew! That was a clutch win!

  4. of or relating to a person, especially a player, who delivers under difficult conditions or at a crucial moment:

    Their quarterback is showing his clutch gene this season.

  5. (of a coat) without fasteners; held closed in front by one's hand or arm.


  1. (used to celebrate something that is found or is available fortuitously, at just the right moment):

    When my phone died, the guy at the next table loaned me his charger. Clutch!



[ kluhch ]


  1. a hatch of eggs; the number of eggs produced or incubated at one time.
  2. a brood of chickens.
  3. a number of similar individuals:

    a clutch of books; a whole clutch of dancers.

verb (used with object)

  1. to hatch (chickens).



/ klʌtʃ /


  1. tr to seize with or as if with hands or claws
  2. tr to grasp or hold firmly
  3. intrusually foll byat to attempt to get hold or possession (of)


  1. 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
  2. a device for holding fast
  3. a firm grasp
  4. a hand, claw, or talon in the act of clutching

    in the clutches of a bear

  5. often plural power or control

    in the clutches of the Mafia

  6. Also calledclutch bag a handbag without handles



/ klʌtʃ /


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


  1. tr to hatch (chickens)

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Other Words From

  • clutch·ing·ly adverb
  • clutch·y adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of clutch1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English clucchen, variant of clicchen, Old English clyccan “to clench”

Origin of clutch2

First recorded in 1715–25; variant of cletch (now dialectal); akin to Scots cleck “to hatch,” from Old Norse klekja “to hatch”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of clutch1

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

Origin of clutch2

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. come in clutch, to deliver or perform what is needed at just the right time or at the last possible moment:

    I missed the bus, which would've made me late for my interview, but a neighbor came in clutch and gave me a ride.

  2. in the clutch, in a crucial, must-win, make-or-break moment:

    You need subs who can come off the bench and score in the clutch.

More idioms and phrases containing clutch

see grasp (clutch) at straws .

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Synonym Study

See catch.

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Example Sentences

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.

From Fortune

As briefly mentioned before, different displacements are also paired with clutch systems that accommodate the skill level of the intended rider.

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.

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.

Available at La Boîte SHOLDIT Clutch Wrap Purse, $70 We can all agree the dorky passport holders and money bags have got to go.

At Oscar after-parties, movie stars clutch In-N-Out burgers in one hand and gilded trophies in the other.

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.

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.

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.

And the nightmare clutch laid hold upon his heart with giant pincers.


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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.

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).

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




cluster variableclutch bag