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Related to clutch: clutch bag
1. adjective Scandalized or mortified about some event, situation, thing, etc., that was once salacious but is now relatively common; morally conservative, stuffy, prudish, or unfashionable. Those pearl-clutching old prudes gave me dirty looks as I walked past in my cut-off jeans, but I don't give a hoot what they think about me.
2. noun The practice or habit of reacting in a scandalized or mortified manner to once-salacious but now relatively common things, events, situations, etc. I have to say that I am sick and tired of all the pearl-clutching going on amongst parents. Look, our kids are growing up in a different social environment than when we were in school, and it's high time we learned to deal with that!
clutch (one's)/the pearls
To react in a scandalized or mortified manner to once-salacious but now relatively common things, events, situations, etc. Parents should try not to clutch the pearls every time their teenagers come out of their room dressed outrageously—it only makes them want to push the envelope even further. My mother would always clutch her pearls whenever I began telling her about a new boyfriend, so eventually I stopped filling her in altogether.
To react in a scandalized or mortified manner to once-salacious but now relatively common things, events, situations, etc. Parents should try not to pearl-clutch every time their teenagers come out of their room dressed outrageously—it only makes them want to push the envelope even further. My mother would always pearl-clutch whenever I began telling her about a new boyfriend, so eventually I stopped filling her in altogether.
clutch at a straw
To make a desperate attempt to salvage a bad situation. A: "But what about all those times I took the trash out when you hadn't even asked me to?" B: "That has nothing to do with why you're in trouble now, so stop clutching at a straw."
a drowning man will clutch at a straw
Someone who is desperate will try to use anything for help, even if it is really no help at all. Facing the possibility that his marriage might be over, John began visiting psychics to help him decide what to do. A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
clutch at someone or something
to grasp at or grab for someone or something. He clutched at the roots of the trees along the bank, but the flood swept him away. Karen clutched at me, but lost her grip.
clutch at straws
Fig. to continue to seek solutions, ideas, or hopes that are insubstantial. When you talk of cashing in quick on your inventions, you are just clutching at straws. That is not a real solution to the problem. You are just clutching at straws.
clutch someone or something to something
to grasp and hold someone or something to something. She clutched the baby to her bosom. Lee clutched the ice pack to his head.
to become very tense and anxious; to freeze with anxiety. I have been known to clutch before a big game. Just relax, play your game, and you won't clutch!
A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
Prov. When you are desperate, you will look for anything that might help you, even if it cannot help you very much. Scott thinks this faith healer will cure his baldness. A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
grasping at straws
Fig. to depend on something that is useless; to make a futile attempt at something. John couldn't answer the teacher's question. He was just grasping at straws. There I was, grasping at straws, with no one to help me.
in(to) someone's clutches
Fig. in the control of someone who has power or authority over someone else. Snow White fell into the clutches of the evil witch. Once you're in my clutches, I'll ruin you.
grasping at strawsalso clutching at straws
1. trying to find some way to succeed when nothing you choose is likely to work Jerry, grasping at straws, searched the backup tapes from last week, looking for the missing files.
2. trying to find reasons to feel hopeful about a bad situation She thinks he might still be interested because he calls her now and then but I think she's clutching at straws.
fall into somebody's clutches
to become influenced or controlled by someone who is likely to use their power in a bad way He fell into the clutches of a nationalist terrorist group. There were fears that the weapons might fall into the enemy's clutches.
clutch/grasp at straws
1. to try any method, even those that are not likely to succeed, because you are in such a bad situation (usually in continuous tenses) He's hoping that this new treatment will help him but I think he's clutching at straws.
2. to try to find reasons to feel hopeful about a situation when there is no real cause for hope (usually in continuous tenses) She thinks he might still be interested because he calls her now and then but I think she's clutching at straws.
grasp at straws
Also, clutch at straws. Make a desperate attempt at saving oneself. For example, He had lost the argument, but he kept grasping at straws, naming numerous previous cases that had little to do with this one . This metaphoric expression alludes to a drowning person trying to save himself by grabbing at flimsy reeds. First recorded in 1534, the term was used figuratively by the late 1600s.
in. to become very tense and anxious; to freeze with anxiety. I have been known to clutch up before a race.
See clutch up
mod. nervous. I get so clutched before a test.
To search in desperation for a solution to a difficulty.