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[kling] /klɪŋ/
verb (used without object), clung, clinging.
to adhere closely; stick to:
The wet paper clings to the glass.
to hold tight, as by grasping or embracing; cleave:
The children clung to each other in the dark.
to be or remain close:
The child clung to her mother's side.
to remain attached, as to an idea, hope, memory, etc.:
Despite the predictions, the candidate clung to the belief that he would be elected.
to cohere.
the act of clinging; adherence; attachment.
Origin of cling1
before 900; Middle English clingen, Old English clingan to stick together, shrink, wither; akin to clench
Related forms
clinger, noun
clingingly, adverb
clingingness, noun
unclinging, adjective
2. clutch, grab, hug. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for clinging
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Several cabin boys are seen, some clinging to the shrouds, some seated.

  • That clinging mist seemed of evil bodement for our expedition.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • As we entered she dropped my hand, clinging convulsively to my dress.

    Memories Fannie A. (Mrs.) Beers
  • Allis knew who the friends were; the clinging touch of stephanotis had come with him.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Her mother was an old woman, clinging with an old, stubborn fidelity to the little things of her past.

British Dictionary definitions for clinging


verb (intransitive) clings, clinging, clung
(often foll by to) to hold fast or adhere closely (to something), as by gripping or sticking
(foll by together) to remain in contact (with each other)
to be or remain physically or emotionally close: to cling to outmoded beliefs
(agriculture, mainly US) the tendency of cotton fibres in a sample to stick to each other
(agriculture, obsolete) diarrhoea or scouring in animals
short for clingstone
Derived Forms
clinging, adjective
clinger, noun
clingingly, adverb
clingy, adjective
clinginess, clingingness, noun
Word Origin
Old English clingan; related to clench
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for clinging



Old English clingan "hold fast, adhere closely; congeal, shrivel" (strong verb, past tense clang, past participle clungen), from Proto-Germanic *klingg- (cf. Danish klynge "to cluster;" Old High German klinga "narrow gorge;" Old Norse klengjask "press onward;" Danish klinke, Dutch klinken "to clench;" German Klinke "latch").

The main sense shifted in Middle English to "adhere to" (something else), "stick together." Of persons in embrace, c.1600. Figuratively (to hopes, outmoded ideas, etc.), from 1580s. Of clothes from 1792. Related: Clung; clinging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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