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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 To remain emotionally attached; hold on: clinging to outdated customs.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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  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
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:


Persistently holding to something:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


[ˈklɪŋɪŋ] ADJ
1. (pej) (= overdependent) [person] → pegajoso
clinging vine (US) (fig) → lapa mf
2. [dress] → ceñido
3. [odour] → tenaz
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈklɪŋɪŋ] adj
[clothes] → moulant(e)
(= clingy) [person] → collant(e)
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adj garmentsich anschmiegend; smelllange haftend, hartnäckig; she’s the clinging sortsie ist wie eine Klette (inf)
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in classic literature ?
"Your Highness," said he, "I will now proceed to prove my magic by creating two suns that you have never seen before; also I will exhibit a Destroyer much more dreadful that your Clinging Vines."
Or else, they grasp at sweetmeats, and mock at their childishness thereby: they cling to their straw of life, and mock at their still clinging to it.
Clinging precariously to this new hold the jed slowly drew in the landing leather, down which he had clambered until he could grasp the hook at its end.
Don't shut God's love out in that way, by clinging to sin....He can't bless you while you have one falsehood in your soul; his pardoning mercy can't reach you until you open your heart to him, and say, 'I have done this great wickedness; O God, save me, make me pure from sin.' While you cling to one sin and will not part with it, it must drag you down to misery after death, as it has dragged you to misery here in this world, my poor, poor Hetty.
To run seemed ridiculous, especially toward that steep and unscalable cliff, and yet I did so, and as I ran I saw Ja, agile as a monkey, crawl down the precipitous face of the rocks, clinging to small projections, and the tough creepers that had found root-hold here and there.
Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire.
Yet Dorothy felt a sort of joyous excitement in defying the storm, and while she held fast to the railing she peered around through the gloom and thought she saw the dim form of a man clinging to a mast not far away from her.
The girl, clinging desperately to the noose, strained every muscle to hold the great weight dangling at the lower end of the rope.
THE Gallant Crew at a life-saving station were about to launch their life-boat for a spin along the coast when they discovered, but a little distance away, a capsized vessel with a dozen men clinging to her keel.
Nay, the time came when I took joy in the run of the masthead and in the clinging on by my legs at that precarious height while I swept the sea with glasses in search of the boats.
Under their feet in the grasses My clinging magic runs.
Ma'ame Pelagie hurried through the wet, clinging grass, beating aside the heavy moss that swept across her face, walking on toward the cabin-toward Pauline.