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Related to clutching: Clutching at Straws

clutch 1

v. clutched, clutch·ing, clutch·es
1. To grasp and hold tightly: a child clutching a blanket.
2. To seize; snatch: clutched the banana from my hand.
1. To attempt to grasp or seize: clutch at a life raft.
2. To engage or disengage a motor vehicle's clutch.
1. A hand, claw, talon, or paw in the act of grasping.
2. A tight grasp.
3. often clutches Control or power: caught in the clutches of sin.
4. A device for gripping and holding.
a. Any of various devices for engaging and disengaging two working parts of a shaft or of a shaft and a driving mechanism.
b. The apparatus, such as a lever or pedal, that activates one of these devices.
6. A tense, critical situation: came through in the clutch.
7. A small, strapless purse that is carried in the hand.
adj. Informal
1. Being or occurring in a tense or critical situation: won the championship by sinking a clutch putt.
2. Tending to be successful in tense or critical situations: The coach relied on her clutch pitcher.
clutchat straws
To search in desperation for a solution to a difficulty.

[Middle English clucchen, variant of clicchen, from Old English clyccan; probably akin to Swedish klyka, crotch (of a tree), place where something branches.]

clutch 2

1. The complete set of eggs produced or incubated at one time.
2. A brood of chickens.
3. A group; a bunch.
tr.v. clutched, clutch·ing, clutch·es
To hatch (chicks).

[Variant of dialectal cletch; akin to Middle English clekken, to hatch, from Old Norse klekja.]
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Fearful of the loss of position or affection:
References in classic literature ?
muttered Jo, rolling her eyes and clutching at the air, as she had seen a famous tragedian do.
The strength that had been as a miracle in her body left and she half reeled across the floor, clutching at the back of the chair in which she had spent so many long days staring out over the tin roofs into the main street of Winesburg.
But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence.
The minister started to his feet, gasping for breath, and clutching at his heart, as if he would have torn it out of his bosom.
It was precisely, in short, by just clutching the helm that I avoided total wreck; and I dare say that, to bear up at all, I became, that morning, very grand and very dry.
The helmsman who steered by that tiller in a tempest, felt like the Tartar, when he holds back his fiery steed by clutching its jaw.