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verb (used without object), clung, cling·ing.
  1. to adhere closely; stick to: The wet paper clings to the glass.
  2. to hold tight, as by grasping or embracing; cleave: The children clung to each other in the dark.
  3. to be or remain close: The child clung to her mother's side.
  4. to remain attached, as to an idea, hope, memory, etc.: Despite the predictions, the candidate clung to the belief that he would be elected.
  5. to cohere.
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  1. the act of clinging; adherence; attachment.
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Origin of cling

before 900; Middle English clingen, Old English clingan to stick together, shrink, wither; akin to clench
Related formscling·er, nouncling·ing·ly, adverbcling·ing·ness, nounun·cling·ing, adjective

Synonyms for cling

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for clinging

adherent, coherent, persistent, tenacious, viscous, viscid, agglutinant, osculant

Examples from the Web for clinging

Contemporary Examples of clinging

Historical Examples of clinging

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

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Allis knew who the friends were; the clinging touch of stephanotis had come with him.


    W. A. Fraser

  • He alarmed her with his imperious gesture, and she turned from him, clinging to my neck.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • And yet Nancy was not clinging to life itself; she only seemed to be, because she clung to love.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him.

British Dictionary definitions for clinging


verb clings, clinging or clung (intr)
  1. (often foll by to) to hold fast or adhere closely (to something), as by gripping or sticking
  2. (foll by together) to remain in contact (with each other)
  3. to be or remain physically or emotionally closeto cling to outmoded beliefs
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  1. agriculture, mainly US the tendency of cotton fibres in a sample to stick to each other
  2. agriculture obsolete diarrhoea or scouring in animals
  3. short for clingstone
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Derived Formsclinging, adjectiveclinger, nounclingingly, adverbclingy, adjectiveclinginess or clingingness, noun

Word Origin for cling

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper