Thursday, December 09, 2010


A recent program on Animal Planet spoke of the krait, a sea snake that deposits its clutch of eggs on the dry ledges of underwater caves, as opposed to most other sea snakes, which bear live young underwater. For some reason, the word clutch jumped out at me.

Clutch came from cletch—a brood or hatching—which came from the Old Norse klekja, to hatch. There is a lateral connection to verbs signifying baking, roasting, or cooking. The childbearing image lives on with, “there’s a bun in the oven.”

There is a second word spelled clutch, no connection, meaning to clench the fingers or to grasp. Originally, it was a claw or talon. A car’s clutch and a clutch bag fit here.


Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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