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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.
  1. the act of clinging; adherence; attachment.

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

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for clung


  1. the past tense and past participle of cling


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
  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
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 clung

Old English clungen, past tense and past participle of cling.



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