Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To close tightly: clench one's teeth; clenched my fists in anger.
  • transitive v. To grasp or grip tightly: clenched the steering wheel.
  • transitive v. To clinch (a bolt, for example).
  • transitive v. Nautical To fasten with a clinch.
  • n. A tight grip or grasp.
  • n. Something, such as a mechanical device, that clenches or holds fast.
  • n. Nautical See clinch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Tight grip.
  • n. A seal that is applied to formed thin-wall bushings.
  • v. To squeeze; to grip or hold tightly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • See clinch.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • . To nail or fasten.
  • To secure or fasten, as a nail, staple, or other metallic fastening, by beating down the point after it has been driven through something; rivet.
  • To bring together and set firmly, as the teeth; double up tightly, as the hands.
  • To grasp or seize firmly or convulsively; gripe.
  • Figuratively, to fix or secure by a finishing touch or blow; confirm, as an argument or an action, in some unanswerable or irresistible way; establish firmly.
  • Nautical, to calk slightly with oakum, in anticipation of foul weather.
  • To gripe.
  • To seize or gripe another, or one another, with a firm grasp or hold, as in wrestling: as, the men clenched.
  • To pun.
  • n. A catch; a grip; a persistent clutch.
  • n. That which holds fast or clenches; a clencher (or clincher); a holdfast.
  • n. Nautical, a mode of fastening large ropes, consisting of a half-hitch with the end stopped back to its part by seizings. The outer end of a hawser is bent by a clench to the ring of the anchor.
  • n. A pun or play on words.
  • n. A mode of securing a nail, staple, or the like, by turning over the point and hammering back into the wood the portion bent over.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. hold in a tight grasp
  • n. a small slip noose made with seizing
  • n. the act of grasping
  • v. squeeze together tightly

Etymologies

Middle English clenchen, from Old English beclencan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English beclenċan, causative of clingan ("cling"). Compare stink and stench. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Yet DOE's culture has been created around this idea that if you ever fail, you get your butt dragged up to Congress and shouted at, and that just causes everybody to kind of clench up.

    Here Comes the Cash

  • By 9: 00 p.m., six corrections officers had strapped him down and you could see Muhammad kind of clench his fist a few times.

    CNN Transcript Nov 10, 2009

  • "I kind of clench my teeth every time Paterson says people will leave," said Edmund J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a conservative-leaning research group that has advocated for sharp cuts in spending to balance New York's budget.

    Buffalo Pundit

  • - Kimberly 3. You clench your nether regions just before a sneeze so you don't pee.

    The Stir: Twenty-Five Ways You Know You're Such a Mother

  • It wasn't just the set of those jaws, which looked clenched in the way that jaws clench when someone is always used to getting their own way.

    Christina Patterson: Why Wrecked Economies Need More Parental Leave

  • The inner fists clench, and the grin begins to grimace.

    Wale Oyejide: The Masquerade Is Over

  • It's really rare that I see something and it makes me clench my buttcheeks so tight that I pull a butt muscle.

    Archive 2009-02-22

  • I wanted not to feel the clench in my guts every time the bills came due.

    2008, What I Wanted

  • The muscles in my groin clench and a heat spreads through me, undeniably pleasant and unwelcome all at the same time, but I can't help myself.

    Cougar

  • "As soon as I hear that drill, even from another room, my fists clench, my body stiffens and my heart starts pounding," she adds.

    More Dentists Taking Pains to Win Back Fearful Patients

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  • "'He that would make a pun would pick a pocket,' said Stephen, 'and that miserable quibble is not even a pun, but a vile clench.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World, 157

    February 20, 2008