adjective, clam·mi·er, clam·mi·est.

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 formsclam·mi·ly, adverbclam·mi·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clamminess

Historical Examples of clamminess

  • But you are not troubled now with the clamminess of unabsorbed perspiration.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • Try them with a fork, which must come out quite clean, and with no clamminess sticking to it.

  • More penetrating than its clamminess was the thought that Madame de Ferrier was out in it alone.


    Mary Hartwell Catherwood

  • A clamminess, such as others feel at the approach of death, spread over my brow and neck.

    Simon the Jester

    William J. Locke

  • Though the root-meaning seems rather that of clamminess or adhesiveness, as found in Sansc.

British Dictionary definitions for clamminess


adjective -mier or -miest

unpleasantly sticky; moistclammy hands
(of the weather, atmosphere, etc) close; humid
Derived Formsclammily, adverbclamminess, noun

Word Origin for clammy

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

Word Origin and History for clamminess



"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