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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English clingen, from Old English clingan (to adhere), from Proto-Germanic *klinganą. Cognate with Danish klynge (to cluster, to crowd). Compare clump.


cling (plural clings)

  1. Fruit (especially peach) whose flesh adheres strongly to the pit.
    • 1908, O. Henry, Hostages to Momus:
      Antelope steaks and fried liver to begin on, and venison cutlets with chili con carne and pineapple fritters, and then some sardines and mixed pickles; and top it off with a can of yellow clings and a bottle of beer.
  2. adherence; attachment; devotion
    • Milton
      A more tenacious cling to worldly respects.


cling (third-person singular simple present clings, present participle clinging, simple past and past participle clung)

  1. To hold very tightly, as to not fall off.
    Seaweed clung to the anchor.
    • 2017, Jennifer S. Holland, For These Monkeys, It’s a Fight for Survival., National Geographic (March 2017)[1]
      Cartoonish, wide-eyed infants cling to their mothers or play together low to the ground.
    • 1823, Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans, The Vespers of Palermo[2], Act the First:
      And what hath life for thee / That thou shouldst cling to it thus?
  2. To adhere to an object, without being affixed, in such a way as to follow its contours. Used especially of fabrics and films.
  3. (transitive) To cause to adhere to, especially by twining round or embracing.
    • Jonathan Swift
      I clung legs as close to his side as I could.
  4. (transitive) To cause to dry up or wither.
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, Act V, scene v
      If thou speak'st false, / Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive, / Till famine cling thee.
  5. (figuratively, with preposition to) to be fond of, to feel strongly about
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford-Paravia Concise - Dizionario Inglese-Italiano e Italiano-Inglese (in collaborazione con Oxford University Press). Edited by Maria Cristina Bareggi. Torino: Paravia, 2003. ISBN 8839551107. Online version

Etymology 2[edit]

Imitative; compare clink, clang.


cling (third-person singular simple present clings, present participle clinging, simple past and past participle clinged)

  1. To produce a high-pitched ringing sound, like a small bell.
    • 1913, Cleveland Moffett, ‎Oliver Herford, The Bishop's Purse (page 121)
      The tiny chimes clinged the hours and quarters against his right and Kate's left ear. They counted nine and three-quarters.
    • 2003, Femi Abodunrin, The Dancing Masquerade, page 24:
      The latter, armed with the most famous tool of their trade — tiny clinging bells — created a small band of untrained orchestra giving their part of the market a festive outlook []

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of clingen