\ˈkliŋ \
clung\ˈkləŋ \; clinging

Definition of cling 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to hold together

b : to adhere as if glued firmly The shirt clung to his wet shoulders.

c : to hold or hold on tightly or tenaciously The kitten clung to the narrow branch.

2a : to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence he clung to his friends for support

b : to remain or linger as if resisting complete spreading or scattering The odor clung to the room for hours.


plural clings

Definition of cling (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of clinging : adherence

3 : a sheet of material (such as plastic or vinyl) designed to adhere to a flat surface by static electricity and often printed with an image or message When it's time for a new look, simply peel off the clings and store them away for another day.— Lorna Hordos

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Other Words from cling


clinger \ˈkliŋ-​ər \ noun
clingy \ˈkliŋ-​ē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for cling

Synonyms: Verb

adhere, cleave, hew, stick

Synonyms: Noun

adherence, adhesion, bonding

Antonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for cling


stick, adhere, cohere, cling, cleave mean to become closely attached. stick implies attachment by affixing or by being glued together. couldn't get the label to stick adhere is often interchangeable with stick but sometimes implies a growing together. antibodies adhering to a virus cohere suggests a sticking together of parts so that they form a unified mass. eggs will make the mixture cohere cling implies attachment by hanging on with arms or tendrils. clinging to a capsized boat cleave stresses strength of attachment. the wet shirt cleaved to his back

Examples of cling in a Sentence


The children clung together under the little umbrella waiting for the storm to pass. a dozen magnets clinging to the refrigerator


for certain types of materials that plastic wrap has very little cling
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The outgrowth is a GOP that clings to the poles of the party, a reality McCarthy very clearly represents. Tara Golshan, Vox, "How Kevin McCarthy led California Republicans astray," 30 Nov. 2018 For accommodations, the Bigelow Hotel (built in 1891) clings proudly to its 1920s heyday; the décor is all art-deco chandeliers and ornate ceilings reliefs (from $120 a night, Elisabeth Vincentelli, WSJ, "The Coolest, Under-the-Radar Ski Towns in the American West," 15 Nov. 2018 This particular flake of silcrete appears to have once been part of a grindstone used to grind ocher into powder, based on the unusual smoothness of its curved face and the microscopic traces of ocher residue still clinging to its surface. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The oldest drawing in the world was done with an ocher crayon," 12 Sep. 2018 And the idea that Michael Cohen is the lynchpin to the entire case and everything will crumble is fascinating that people would cling to that. Fox News, "Media downplay Trump administration's economic successes," 28 July 2018 Each time the strap connected with flesh, the army cot the boys clung to would jerk and heave. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "A victim of vile abuse at Florida reform school, he spent his life fighting for justice," 10 July 2018 There was the raw sea scallop, so intensely fresh that its slices clung together stickily; Mr. Hardy had dressed it with dots of yogurt, tiny oval basil leaves, toasted almonds and tart little pink cells of finger lime. New York Times, "Legacy Records Looks for History in a Brand New Neighborhood," 19 June 2018 The glaze should be thin enough to spoon or drizzle over the cake but just stiff enough that some of the glaze will cling to the sides. Jill O'connor,, "Cookbook celebrates versatility of oranges," 26 Mar. 2018 Brits Beth Cummings, 14, and Bess Walder, 15 clinging to floating steamer trunks, kick and sing, share memories of home and dreams of Hollywood stardom — and push each other to live., "'Lifeboat' tells teens' terrifying World War II survivors' tale," 15 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Several spots on the T-shirt and hat clearly reject any attempt by the ketchup and mustard mixture to cling, whereas others afford it a bit of purchase. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018 An estimated 40,000 members of the ethnic minority cling to the belief that everything vital in the world originates from a woman, earning the region the nickname Kingdom of Daughters. Jason Motlagh, Marie Claire, "Kingdom of Women," 18 Jan. 2018 The idea later resulted in a bridal collection of minimalist, no-frills wedding slips with a simple silhouette and carefree cling, complete with adjustable pearl-fastened straps. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Need a Wedding Dress and Pajamas? Sleeper Is the One-Stop Shop for Both," 5 Feb. 2018 Pickled mustard greens are essential, the tang offsetting the velvet cling of liquid fat. New York Times, "At Happy Stony Noodle, a Childhood Favorite Anchors the Menu," 25 Jan. 2018 The clings are meant to be peeled off after the party and reused at the next event. Bonnie Mccarthy,, "Keep track of your cocktails with drink charms and markers," 16 Dec. 2017 Keith’s chill delivery begets rapid rhymes that hang among the bells and whistles and clings and clangs of the arcade’s vintage machines. Kevin Warwick, Chicago Reader, "Hip-hop alien Kool Keith again invades Logan Arcade for his annual X-mas extravaganza," 15 Dec. 2017 One simple and inexpensive precaution is a window cling that alerts first responders that a pet is inside the home. Kelly Mcbride,, "Vet clinic reaches out to pet owners who can't afford care," 27 June 2017 Customers station themselves at the table, the windowsill or a low shelf, each set with a saltshaker and an enormous bottle of Valentina hot sauce, which brings good cling, upfront heat and a citrus coda. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "A Shrimp Cocktail With a Jumbo Jolt, at La Esquina in Queens," 4 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cling


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cling


Middle English, from Old English clingan; akin to Old High German klunga tangled ball of thread


see cling entry 1

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Learn More about cling

Dictionary Entries near cling






cling film


Statistics for cling

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cling

The first known use of cling was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for cling



English Language Learners Definition of cling

: to hold onto something or someone very tightly

: to stay very close to someone for emotional support, protection, etc.

: to stick to something or someone


\ˈkliŋ \
clung\ˈkləŋ \; clinging

Kids Definition of cling

1 : to hold fast by grasping or winding around To avoid falling, cling to the railing.

2 : to remain close He clings to the family.

3 : to hold fast or stick closely to a surface These wet socks are clinging to my feet.

4 : to continue to believe in We clung to the hope that we'd be rescued.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cling

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cling

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cling

Spanish Central: Translation of cling

Nglish: Translation of cling for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cling for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cling

What made you want to look up cling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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