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Origin of cloying

First recorded in 1540–50; cloy + -ing2
Related formscloy·ing·ly, adverbun·cloy·ing, adjective


verb (used with object)
  1. to weary by an excess of food, sweetness, pleasure, etc.; surfeit; satiate.
verb (used without object)
  1. to become uninteresting or distasteful through overabundance: A diet of cake and candy soon cloys.

Origin of cloy

1350–1400; aphetic variant of Middle English acloyen < Middle French enclo(y)er < Late Latin inclāvāre to nail in, equivalent to in- in-2 + -clāvāre, verbal derivative of clāvus nail
Related formso·ver·cloy, verb (used with object)un·cloyed, adjective

Synonyms for cloy

See more synonyms for on
1. glut, sate, bore. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cloying

Contemporary Examples of cloying

Historical Examples of cloying

  • Still the breeze delayed, and the fragrant odors of the woods were cloying.


    Eliot H. Robinson

  • So feeble and cloying is the venereal indulgence, if Love inspires it not.

  • The deliberate pathos, the cloying charm, did not seem to exist for Louise.

    Regiment of Women

    Clemence Dane

  • But there need be no fear of massed color in a field, as being ever gaudy or cloying.

    Old-Time Gardens

    Alice Morse Earle

  • It was of a full and penetrating sweetness, too keen and delicate to be cloying.

British Dictionary definitions for cloying


  1. initially pleasurable or sweet but wearying in excess
Derived Formscloyingly, adverb


  1. to make weary or cause weariness through an excess of something initially pleasurable or sweet

Word Origin for cloy

C14 (originally: to nail, hence, to obstruct): from earlier acloyen, from Old French encloer, from Medieval Latin inclavāre, from Latin clāvāre to nail, from clāvus a nail
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 cloying

1640s, present participle adjective from cloy (v.). Related: Cloyingly; cloyingness.



"weary by too much, fill to loathing, surfeit," 1520s, from Middle English cloyen "hinder movement, encumber" (late 14c.), a shortening of accloyen (early 14c.), from Old French encloer "to fasten with a nail, grip, grasp," figuratively "to hinder, check, stop, curb," from Late Latin inclavare "drive a nail into a horse's foot when shoeing," from Latin clavus "a nail" (see slot (n.2)).

Accloye is a hurt that cometh of shooing, when a Smith driveth a nail in the quick, which make him to halt. [Edward Topsell, "The History of Four-footed Beasts," 1607]

The figurative meaning "fill to a satiety, overfill" is attested for accloy from late 14c. Related: Cloyed; cloying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper