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


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

Middle English clenchen, from Old English beclencan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English beclenċan, causative of clingan ("cling"). Compare stink and stench.


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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