Origin of unclamp

First recorded in 1800–10; un-2 + clamp


  1. a device, usually of some rigid material, for strengthening or supporting objects or fastening them together.
  2. an appliance with opposite sides or parts that may be adjusted or brought closer together to hold or compress something.
  3. one of a pair of movable pieces, made of lead or other soft material, for covering the jaws of a vise and enabling it to grasp without bruising.
  4. Also called clamp rail. Carpentry. a rail having a groove or a number of mortises for receiving the ends of a number of boards to bind them into a flat piece, as a drawing board or door.
  5. Nautical.
    1. a horizontal timber in a wooden hull, secured to ribs to support deck beams and to provide longitudinal strength.
    2. mast clamp.
verb (used with object)
  1. to fasten with or fix in a clamp.
Verb Phrases
  1. clamp down, to become more strict: There were too many tax loopholes, so the government clamped down.
  2. clamp down on, to impose or increase controls on.

Origin of clamp

1350–1400; Middle English (noun) < Middle Dutch clampe clamp, cleat; cognate with Middle Low German klampe
Related formsun·clamped, adjective

Synonyms for clamp

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

Examples from the Web for unclamped

Historical Examples of unclamped

  • He clamped and unclamped his big hand, watching the strong muscle-play in it.

  • With one motion, he unclamped his skates and threw them from him.

  • But he pushed her firmly away, and unclamped the lid of the submarine.

  • Alec unclamped the seat belt, then slammed his magnetic clamp suit boots against the outer plates of the carrier.

  • He unclamped his safety harness and stumbled to the jettison bin, holding a hand over his mouth.


    Daniel F. Galouye

British Dictionary definitions for unclamped


  1. a mechanical device with movable jaws with which an object can be secured to a bench or with which two objects may be secured together
  2. See also wheel clamp
  3. a means by which a fixed joint may be strengthened
  4. nautical a horizontal beam fastened to the ribs for supporting the deck beams in a wooden vessel
verb (tr)
  1. to fix or fasten with or as if with a clamp
  2. to immobilize (a car) by means of a wheel clamp
  3. to inflict or impose forcefullythey clamped a curfew on the town

Word Origin for clamp

C14: from Dutch or Low German klamp; related to Old English clamm bond, fetter, Old Norse kleppr lump


  1. a mound formed out of a harvested root crop, covered with straw and earth to protect it from winter weather
  2. a pile of bricks ready for processing in a furnace
  1. (tr) to enclose (a harvested root crop) in a mound

Word Origin for clamp

C16: from Middle Dutch klamp heap; related to clump
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 unclamped



device for fastening, c.1300, probably from clamb, perhaps originally past tense of climb (v.), or from Middle Dutch clampe (Dutch klamp), from West Germanic *klamp- "clamp, cleat;" cf. Middle Low German klampe "clasp, hook," Old High German klampfer "clip, clamp;" also probably related to Middle Dutch klamme "a clamp, hook, grapple," Danish klamme "a clamp, cramp," Old English clamm "fetter;" see clam (n.).



"to fasten with a clamp," 1670s, from clamp (n.). Related: Clamped; clamping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

unclamped in Medicine


  1. An instrument for the compression or grasping of a structure.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.