To clutch is to grasp or hold on to tightly. Some people clutch the safety bar on the roller coaster for dear life; others throw their hands in the air.

As a noun, clutch has many meanings: a brood of chickens, a strapless purse, the extra pedal in a stick-shift car. But the verb remains a great way to describe grasping. "Once I knew only darkness and stillness . . . but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living,” said Helen Keller, recalling the moment she learned to read Braille.

Primary Meanings of clutch

take hold of; grab
the act of grasping
a tense critical situation
a coupling that connects or disconnects driving and driven parts of a driving mechanism
a collection of things or persons to be handled together
a woman's strapless purse that is carried in the hand
Full Definitions of clutch

v take hold of; grab

“She clutched her purse”
prehend, seize
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seize suddenly
seize together, as of parallel ropes of a tackle in order to prevent running through the block
clutch as if in panic
apprehend, arrest, collar, cop, nab, nail, pick up
take into custody
capture, catch, get
succeed in catching or seizing, especially after a chase
seize by the neck or collar
grasp firmly
hold fast or firmly
take or grasp suddenly
catch, grab, take hold of
take hold of so as to seize or restrain or stop the motion of
snap, snatch, snatch up
to grasp hastily or eagerly
clench, clinch
hold in a tight grasp
grapple, grip
to grip or seize, as in a wrestling match
spear with a harpoon
catch or try to catch fish or shellfish
catch with a hook
net, nett
catch with a net
recapture, retake
capture again
swoop, swoop up
seize or catch with a swooping motion
intercept, stop
seize on its way
bite, seize with teeth
to grip, cut off, or tear with or as if with the teeth or jaws
nip, pinch, squeeze, tweet, twinge, twitch
squeeze tightly between the fingers
lasso, rope
catch with a lasso
Type of:
get hold of, take
get into one's hands, take physically

v hold firmly, usually with one's hands

“She clutched my arm when she got scared”
cling to, hold close, hold tight
cuddle, draw close, nest, nestle, nuzzle, snuggle
move or arrange oneself in a comfortable and cozy position
Type of:
hold, take hold
have or hold in one's hands or grip

n the act of grasping

clasp, clench, clutches, grasp, grip, hold
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choke hold, chokehold
a restraining hold; someone loops the arm around the neck of another person in a tight grip, usually from behind
embrace, embracement, embracing
the act of clasping another person in the arms (as in greeting or affection)
wrestling hold
a hold used in the sport of wrestling
cuddle, nestle, snuggle
a close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace
clinch, hug, squeeze
a tight or amorous embrace
bear hug
a wrestling hold with arms locked tightly around the opponent
any of several wrestling holds in which an arm is passed under the opponent's arm from behind and the hand exerts pressure on the back of the neck
Japanese stranglehold
a wrestling hold in which the opponent's arms are crossed in front of his own neck to exert pressure on his windpipe
any wrestling hold in which some part of the opponent's body is twisted or pressured
scissor grip, scissor hold, scissors, scissors grip, scissors hold
a wrestling hold in which you wrap your legs around the opponents body or head and put your feet together and squeeze
a wrestling hold in which the arms are pressed against the opponent's windpipe
a wrestling hold in which the toe is held and the leg is twisted against the joints
Type of:
grasping, prehension, seizing, taking hold
the act of gripping something firmly with the hands (or the tentacles)

v affect

get hold of, seize
Type of:
overcome, overpower, overtake, overwhelm, sweep over, whelm
overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli

n a tense critical situation

“he is a good man in the clutch
Type of:
temporary state
a state that continues for a limited time

n a coupling that connects or disconnects driving and driven parts of a driving mechanism

“this year's model has an improved clutch
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a clutch (as on the rear wheel of a bicycle) that allows wheels to turn freely (as in coasting)
friction clutch
a clutch in which one part turns the other by the friction between them
cone clutch, cone friction clutch
a friction clutch in which the frictional surfaces are cone-shaped
disk clutch
a friction clutch in which the frictional surfaces are disks
slip clutch, slip friction clutch
a friction clutch that will slip when the torque is too great
Type of:
coupler, coupling
a mechanical device that serves to connect the ends of adjacent objects

n a pedal or lever that engages or disengages a rotating shaft and a driving mechanism

“he smoothely released the clutch with one foot and stepped on the gas with the other”
clutch pedal
Type of:
foot lever, foot pedal, pedal, treadle
a lever that is operated with the foot

n a collection of things or persons to be handled together

schmear, schmeer, shmear
(Yiddish) a batch of things that go together
Type of:
accumulation, aggregation, assemblage, collection
several things grouped together or considered as a whole

n a number of birds hatched at the same time

Type of:
the young of an animal cared for at one time

n a woman's strapless purse that is carried in the hand

clutch bag
Type of:
bag, handbag, pocketbook, purse
a container used for carrying money and small personal items or accessories (especially by women)

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