Easily Confused Words: Clench vs. Clinch

Clench and clinch are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Clench is a verb. It means to position one’s jaws tightly together so that they arinseparable.

Clinch is s verb. It has multiple meanings:

  • It can mean to fasten a nail or screw tightly into wood or another surface.
  • It can mean to tighten an orifice or opening in the body.
  • It can mean to resolve a matter absolutely.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Clive couldn’t get enough of his favorite web TV series. At end of season one, he was clenching his jaw in the final thirty seconds, thrilled with all the plot twists and cliffhangers.

At the end of season two, as the creators brought a tightly clinched narrative to a close. Once again, he was really tense. 

Then he learned there wouldn’t be a season three, and he was depressed for a month.


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