The Meaning of Clutch: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of clutch? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word clutch, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word clutch mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and How Stuff Works, the word clutch has various different meanings. The most common meaning is a verb that refers to the action of grabbing or holding something. The word clutch can also refer to a strapless purse or handbag, named as such because you must clutch it in order to carry it. You can also say that someone or something is “coming in clutch” which means that they are able to help in a critical situation just in the nick of time, like a clutch pitcher or a clutch hitter in baseball. Clutch can also be used as a mount to refer to a number of eggs or brood of chickens. The pronunciation of clutch is klʌtʃ. 

With regard to automobiles like cars and trucks, the clutch is used as a noun. This device mechanism is used in manual transmission cars by the driver, but people who drive automatic transmission or power transmission cars can have clutches too. The clutch is a device that connects the two rotating shafts – one shaft is driven by a motor or pulley, the other which drives the device. In a car, a clutch is needed because the engine always spins but the wheels do now. This means that you need a clutch to disconnect the wheels from the engine. Clutches use friction to work between a clutch plate and a flywheel. The flywheel connects to the engine and the pressure plate connects to the transmission. This uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to engage and disengage planetary gears. The pedal acts as a lever to operate the clutch. Depending on the year’s model, the way this mechanical device using the parts of a driving mechanism works is slightly different. However, they all use the same basic mechanisms in the driving shaft or driven shaft to spin the flywheel and have the car change gears via engine rotation. Other things like a drill chuck can have a clutch plate that allows it to operate at different speeds using a clutch disc and friction material with torque.

Many different languages around the world have their own words for clutch. You may notice that some of these translations of clutch look and sound similar to the word clutch. These are called cognates, which are often formed when two words in different languages have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of the word clutch is provided by Word Sense

  •  Dutch: koppeling‎, klauw‎ (fem.)
  •  Nynorsk: clutch‎ (masc.), kløtsj‎ (masc.)
  •  French: embrayage‎
  •  Finnish: kytkin‎
  •  Bokmål: clutch‎ (masc.), kløtsj‎ (masc.), kobling‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Welsh: cydiwr‎
  •  Hungarian: tengelykapcsoló‎, kuplung‎
  •  German: Kupplung‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: ambreiaj‎ (neut.)
  •  Macedonian: квачило‎ (neut.), спојка‎ (fem.), куплунг‎ (masc.)
  •  Hebrew: מַצְמֵד‎, קְלָאץ׳‎ (slang)
  •  Greek: συμπλέκτης‎ (masc.), αμπραγιάζ‎ (neut.) (slang, from French)
  •  Persian: کلاچ‎ (kelâč)
  •  Catalan: embragatge‎
  •  Polish: sprzęgło‎ (neut.)
  •  Russian: сцепле́ние‎ (neut.), му́фта‎ (fem.)
  •  Czech: spojka‎ (fem.)
  •  Latvian: sajūgs‎ (masc.), uzmava‎ (fem.)
  •  Irish: ál‎
  •  Icelandic: kúpling‎
  •  Bulgarian: съединител‎ (masc.), амбриаж‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: koppling‎
  •  Japanese: クラッチ‎ (kuratchi)
  •  Esperanto: kuplado‎, kluĉado‎, kluĉilo‎
  •  Georgian: ქურო‎
  •  Armenian: կցորդիչ‎
  •  Spanish: cloch‎ (masc.) (Colombia Costa Rica Honduras Mexico Nicaragua), cloche‎ (masc.) (Caribbean Islands, Colombian Atlantic Coast, Venezuela), clutch‎ (masc.) (Colombia El Salvador Guatemala Mexico Panama Peru – pronounced ‘cloch’), croche‎ (masc.) (Venezuela), embrague‎ (masc.) (Argentina Bolivia Chile Ecuador Paraguay Spain Uruguay), clutch‎ (masc.) (N Mexico)
  •  Italian: frizione‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: квачило‎ (neut.), спојка‎ (fem.), куплунг‎ (masc.), kvačilo‎, spojka‎, kuplung‎
  •  Danish: kobling‎ (common)
  •  Portuguese: embraiagem‎, embreagem‎ (fem.)
  •  Turkish: debriyaj‎
  •  Mandarin: 離合器‎, 离合器‎ (líhéqì)

What is the origin of the word clutch?

According to Etymonline, the word clutch comes from the Middle English clekken, Middle English clucchen and Old English clyccan and has been used since the early c14. This is a variant of clicchen. This came from a Northern English dialect. It is related to the Old Frisian kletsie, Scots cleck, Old Norse klekja, and Swedish klyka.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word clutch?

There are many different words that can be used in place of the word clutch. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language grammatical device to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are trying to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word clutch is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  pluck
  •  prehend
  •  catch
  •  freeze up
  •  coupling
  •  hold fast
  •  take
  •  group
  •  clutches
  •  gather
  •  cluster
  •  clutch pedal
  •  lay hold of
  •  bunch
  •  hold tightly
  •  cuddle
  •  cling
  •  enfold
  •  hug
  •  snag
  •  clasp
  •  gathering
  •  clinch
  •  pack
  •  hang on
  •  gripe
  •  press
  •  get hold of
  •  snatch
  •  hold
  •  grapple
  •  grips
  •  clutch bag
  •  batch
  •  nab
  •  grip
  •  become hysterical
  •  clench
  •  hold tight
  •  embrace
  •  take hold of
  •  cling to
  •  squeeze
  •  hold close
  •  grab
  •  chicks
  •  seize
  •  envelop
  •  collection
  •  grasp

There are also many different words and phrases that mean the opposite of the phrase clutch. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are also a useful device to know if you are working on your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word clutch is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  unfasten
  •  brain boner
  •  channel
  •  abdicate
  •  defined band of
  •  allow
  •  heavy backpack
  •  certainty
  •  large piece of luggage
  •  cure-all
  •  clemency
  •  ambiguous
  •  big backpack
  •  avulsion
  •  answer
  •  solution
  •  huge suitcase
  •  boon
  •  advantage
  •  affront
  •  large backpack
  •  heavy suitcase
  •  conclude
  •  massive suitcase
  •  elucidation
  •  free
  •  massive bag
  •  substantial bag
  •  disregard
  •  conclusion
  •  abandon
  •  huge bag
  •  let go
  •  burst
  •  careless
  •  broad
  •  large suitcase
  •  huge backpack
  •  blade of grass
  •  clarification
  •  come up with
  •  give
  •  large bag
  •  release
  •  suitcase
  •  calm
  •  big suitcase
  •  heavy bag
  •  big bag
  •  small proportion

Overall, the word clutch means various things. It can mean to hold tightly when used as a verb, or it can refer to a part of a car when used as a noun. 


  1. Clutch synonyms – 2 117 Words and Phrases for Clutch | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Clutch antonyms – 191 Opposites of Clutch | Power Thesaurus 
  3. clutch | Origin and meaning of clutch | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. How Clutches Work | HowStuffWorks 
  5. clutch: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense