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.
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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.
The Kentucky freshman sunk his third game-winning three-pointer in a row, launching fresh claims about his ‘clutch gene.’Was Aaron Harrison’s Game-Winning Three-Pointer ‘Clutch’?|Robert Silverman|April 7, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Plenty of us women were enjoying the same behavior (clutch your pearls); it was fun.Dear Princeton Mom, Stop Telling Me To Husband-Hunt|Emily Shire|February 14, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I've always loved when girls carry their wallets as a clutch instead of a bag.
Right, it's been fun, but now I am off to find a dark room and clutch a cold compress to my head.
Beatrice completed her going-out ensemble with a cream sweater, bow belt and a plastic pink Zara clutch.Harry And Cressida Party At Bodo's Schloss in London|Tom Sykes|May 3, 2013|DAILY BEAST
In every part of the United States he had found a city in the clutch of a corrupt ring.Once Upon A Time|Richard Harding Davis
But there was nothing at which she could clutch save—but it was sheer madness.Under the Witches' Moon|Nathan Gallizier
If they wore a head-covering at all, it was a shawl gathered at the throat by the clutch of frost-bitten fingers.Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp|Annie Roe Carr
At that moment his volatile companion gave his arm a clutch and stopped their walk as if a sudden thought had seized him.His Grace of Osmonde|Frances Hodgson Burnett
Hold the clutch lever in one hand, while with the other you operate the steering wheel.Farm Engines and How to Run Them|James H. Stephenson
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.