A clutch is a mechanical device that provides for the transmission of power (and therefore usually motion) from one component (the driving member) to another (the driven member) when engaged, but can be disengaged.
Clutches are used whenever the transmission of power or motion needs to be controlled either in amount or over time (e.g., electric screwdrivers limit how much torque is transmitted through use of a clutch; clutches control whether automobiles transmit engine power to the wheels).
In the simplest application, clutches are employed in devices which have two rotating shafts (drive shaft or line shaft). In these devices, one shaft is typically attached to a motor or other power unit (the driving member) while the other shaft (the driven member) provides output power for work to be done.
In a torque-controlled drill, for instance, one shaft is driven by a motor and the other drives a drill chuck. The clutch connects the two shafts so that they may be locked together and spin at the same speed (engaged), locked together but spinning at different speeds (slipping), or unlocked and spinning at different speeds (disengaged).