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intr.v. clung (klŭng), cling·ing, clings
1. To hold fast or adhere to something, as by grasping, sticking, embracing, or entwining: clung to the rope to keep from falling; fabrics that cling to the body.
2. To remain close; resist separation: We clung together in the storm.
3. To remain emotionally attached; hold on: clinging to outdated customs.
A clingstone fruit.

[Middle English clingen, from Old English clingan.]

cling′er n.
cling′y adj.




  1. Adhere like lint —Anon
  2. Adhere like ticks to a sheep’s back —Maurice Hewlett
  3. Adhering … like shipwrecked mariners on a rock —J. M. Barrie
  4. Clinging … like lichen to a rock —Ross Macdonald
  5. Clinging like a limpet in the heaviest sea —William H. Hallhan
  6. Clinging … like a monkey-on-a-stick —Julia O’Faolain
  7. Clinging … stupidly, like a mule —Joseph Conrad
  8. Clinging to her like chewing gum to a boot sole —Julian Gloag
  9. a wart —Tony Ardizzone

    The simile, as used in The Heart of the Order, describes the way a cowboy clings to the back of a bull.

  10. Cling like chewing gum to a shoe sole —Anon
  11. Cling like ivy —Robert Burton
  12. Clings fiercely to all his titles, like an old soldier to his medals —Robert Traver
  13. Clings to as a baby clings to its pacifier —Anon
  14. Clings to me like a bed-bug —Maxim Gorky
  15. Cling to (as to another person) as an exhausted man does to a rock —Brooks Bakeland
  16. Cling to … like a drowning person to a piece of timber —Isak Dinesen
  17. Cling to like a leech —American colloquialism, attributed to New England
  18. Cling to like a vine —American colloquialism, attributed to New England

    A variation is to “Cling like ivy.”

  19. Cling to … like tenacious barnacles upon rocks —Mary Ellen Chase
  20. Clung like a basket enfolding a tithe offering —Arthur A. Cohen
  21. Clung [to an idea] like a shipwrecked sailor hanging on to the only solid part of his sinking universe —Marguerite Yourcenar
  22. (The baby) clung like a sloth —Louise Erdrich
  23. Clung … like a tarantula —Terry Southern
  24. (Rancour) clung like curses on them —Percy Bysshe Shelley
  25. Clung … like magnet to steel —T. Buchanan Read
  26. Clung the way a tree animal clings to a branch —Rachel Ingalls
  27. Clung to each other like double sweet peas —A Broken-Hearted Gardner, anonymous 19th century verse
  28. Clung together hand in hand like men overboard —George Garrett
  29. Clung to her like a man on a swaying subway car whose grip on the overhead rail keeps him from tumbling to the floor —Paul Reidinger
  30. Clung to his consciousness like a membrane —John Updike
  31. Clutched [at her blanket] as a faller clutches at the turf on the edge of a cliff —Virginia Woolf
  32. Clutching hold of … with the grasp of a drowning man —Charles Dickens
  33. Clutching is the surest way to murder love, as if it were a kitten, not to be squeezed so hard, or a flower to fade in a tight hand —May Sarton
  34. (There she sat,) glued to the tube like a postage stamp —A. Alvarez
  35. Gummed together like wet leaves —Lawrence Durrell
  36. [A term to describe a problem] had stuck with him like day-old oatmeal —T. Glen Coughlin
  37. Hang on like a summer cold —Anon
  38. Hang on … like a tick —Rita Mae Brown
  39. Hang on to … [some small, unimportant point] … like a dog to a bone —Barbara Greene, on her cousin Graham Greene

    Some people like to get more specific; for example, “Hang on to … like a terrier” found in Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Good Apprentice.

  40. Hang over like a heavy curtain —Anon
  41. Hang over like a layer of smog —Anon
  42. Hang over like crepe —Anon
  43. Hang over like murder on a guilty soul —Sciller
  44. Hang together like burrs —John Ray’s Proverbs
  45. Hung like bees on mountain-flowers —Percy Bysshe Shelley
  46. (The thought … ) hung like incense around Francis —Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  47. It [something that had been said] stuck up in the girl’s consciousness like a fallen meteor —John Cheever
  48. (A scar of horror, if not of guilt,) lay consciously on his breast, like the scarlet letter —George Santayana
  49. Clinging … like starving children to a teat —Margaret Millar
  50. Like swarming bees they clung —Lord Byron
  51. Remained like a black cloud —Frank Swinnerton
  52. She clings to me like a fly to honey —Anton Chekhov
  53. She clung to him like a shadow —Margaret Mitchell
  54. She’s coiled around her family and her house like a python —Jane Bowles
  55. She was like a sea-anemone —had only to be touched to adhere to what touched her —John Fowles
  56. Sticking to [another person’s side] like a melting snowbank —Marge Piercy
  57. Stick like a wet leaf —Anton Chekhov
  58. Sticks like a burr to a cow’s tail —Edward Noyes Westcott
  59. Sticks like crazy glue —Anon
  60. (My touch) sticks like mud —Marge Piercy
  61. Stick together like overcooked pasta —Elyse Sommer
  62. Stick together like peanut butter and jelly —Ed McBain
  63. Sticky as fire —Terry Bisson
  64. Sticky as rubber cement —Anon
  65. Stuck … like a barnacle to a ship’s keel, or a snail to a door, or a little bunch of toadstools to the stem of a tree —Charles Dickens
  66. Stuck to [him or her] like shit to a blanket —American colloquialism
  67. Stuck to my side like a lung infected with pleurisy —Patrick White
  68. Stuck with … like gas on water —Will Weaver
  69. Tenacious as a Boston bull —Anon
  70. They [people who cling to outmoded political concepts] are like degenerates who are color blind, except that they see something which is NOT there, instead of failing to see something which is —Janet Flanner
  71. They [narrator’s daughters] cling together like Hansel and Gretel —Ogden Nash
  72. Tied to each other back to back [long-married people] … like dogs unable to disengage after coupling —Lawrence Durrell
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:


Persistently holding to something:


[ˈklɪŋɪŋ] ADJ
1. (pej) (= overdependent) [person] → pegajoso
clinging vine (US) (fig) → lapa mf
2. [dress] → ceñido
3. [odour] → tenaz


[ˈklɪŋɪŋ] adj
[clothes] → moulant(e)
(= clingy) [person] → collant(e)


adj garmentsich anschmiegend; smelllange haftend, hartnäckig; she’s the clinging sortsie ist wie eine Klette (inf)
References in classic literature ?
Don't feel that I am separated from you, Marmee dear, or that I love you any the less for loving John so much," she said, clinging to her mother, with full eyes for a moment.
When she took hold of a mop or a broom handle the hands looked like the dried stems of an old creeping vine clinging to a tree.
If I sat down even for a moment, I was sure to find threads and bits of coloured silk clinging to my clothes after I went away.
The boys were tumbling about, clinging to his legs, imploring that numerous things be brought back to them.
He made no reply, though his eye fell wistfully on the beautiful form of Alice, who was clinging to his arm with the dependency of an infant.
Thorndike considered whimsically that to send a man to jail with the memory of such a morning clinging to him was adding a year to his sentence.
There were others again, true saintly fathers, whose faculties had been elaborated by weary toil among their books, and by patient thought, and etherealised, moreover, by spiritual communications with the better world, into which their purity of life had almost introduced these holy personages, with their garments of mortality still clinging to them.
Thus they rushed; each man with might and main clinging to his seat, to prevent being tossed to the foam; and the tall form of Tashtego at the steering oar crouching almost double, in order to bring down his centre of gravity.
Almost in the same instant, with a thunder-boom, the enormous mass dropped into the sea, like Niagara's Table-Rock into the whirlpool; the suddenly relieved hull rolled away from it, to far down her glittering copper; and all caught their breath, as half swinging --now over the sailors' heads, and now over the water --Daggoo, through a thick mist of spray, was dimly beheld clinging to the pendulous tackles, while poor, buried-alive Tashtego was sinking utterly down to the bottom of the sea
Mercifully the doctor did not say this so that the old man could hear, for he was still clinging to the faith that tomorrow or next day he would be better, and could go back to his job.
Whereas, fail- ing in her first duty, she hath by that failure failed in all; for whoso, clinging to a rope, severeth it above his hands, must fall; it being no defense to claim that the rest of the rope is sound, neither any deliverance from his peril, as he shall find.
This feature may be described as a series of glass-enclosed parlors CLINGING TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE, one against each and every bed-chamber and drawing-room.