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[klam-ee] /ˈklæm i/
adjective, clammier, clammiest.
covered with a cold, sticky moisture; cold and damp:
clammy hands.
sickly; morbid:
She had a clammy feeling that something was wrong at home.
Origin of clammy
1350-1400; Middle English, equivalent to Middle English clam sticky, cold and damp + -y -y1
Related forms
clammily, adverb
clamminess, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for clammy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If too cold, it will scarcely rise at all, and will be white and clammy.

  • Until you have shivered in clammy cotton, you cannot realize the importance of this point.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • Her own hands were cold and moist, and when she touched the child she thought its skin was clammy.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • The engineer winced as Solinski enfolded his hand in a clammy grip.

    The End of Time Wallace West
  • He clenched his hands together; they were clammy with sweat, and his brain was in a whirl.

    The Great Hunger Johan Bojer
  • Merle stood at the window, her face grey in the clammy light.

    The Great Hunger Johan Bojer
  • His eyes were closed; a cold, clammy sweat was on his forehead—he was dying.

British Dictionary definitions for clammy


adjective -mier, -miest
unpleasantly sticky; moist: clammy hands
(of the weather, atmosphere, etc) close; humid
Derived Forms
clammily, adverb
clamminess, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old English clǣman to smear; related to Old Norse kleima, Old High German kleimen
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 clammy

"soft and sticky," late 14c., probably from Middle English clam "viscous, sticky, muddy" (mid-14c.), from Old English clæm "mud, sticky clay," from Proto-Germanic *klaimaz "clay" (cf. Flemish klammig, Low German klamig "sticky, damp," Old English clæman "to smear, plaster;" cf. clay). With -y (2). Related: Clammily; clamminess.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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