clutch

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a set of eggs laid by a bird

Cars & Driving

  • noun a mechanism for connecting or disconnecting the drive between two shafts while they are rotating or at rest, placed between the engine and gearbox in vehicles with manual transmission, and usually mounted on the flywheel

Construction

  • A friction or hydraulic coupling between a power source and a drive train.

Slang

  • noun a cheek-to-cheek or arm-in-arm dance. A ‘society’ word, used by Sloane Rangers among others, which is a specialised use of the colloquial meaning of ‘embrace’.

Origin & History of “clutch”

Clutch ‘seize’ (14th c.) and clutch of eggs (18th c.) are separate words, although they may ultimately be related. The verb arose in middle English as a variant of the now obsolete clitch, which came from Old English clyccan ‘bend, clench’. The modern sense of the noun, ‘device for engaging a motor vehicle’s gears’, which was introduced at the end of the 19th century, developed from a more general early 19th-century meaning ‘coupling for bringing working parts together’, based no doubt on the notion of ‘seizing’ and ‘grasping’. Clutch of eggs is a variant of the now obsolete dialectal form cletch (17th c.). this was a derivative of the Middle English verb clecken ‘give birth’, which was borrowed from Old Norse klekja (probably a distant relative of clutch ‘seize’).
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