cloyed; cloying; cloys

transitive verb

: to supply with an unwanted or distasteful excess usually of something originally pleasing
… Cordelia has been cloyed by her sisters' excessive protestations of affection …Rebecca West

intransitive verb

: to be or become insipid or distasteful usually through an excess of an originally pleasurable quality (such as sweetness)
… curious how the lemon keeps its bite when the sweet flavours have begun to cloy, and the crispness has departed.Eric Korn
Choose the Right Synonym for cloy

satiate, sate, surfeit, cloy, pall, glut, gorge mean to fill to repletion.

satiate and sate may sometimes imply only complete satisfaction but more often suggest repletion that has destroyed interest or desire.

years of globe-trotting had satiated their interest in travel
readers were sated with sensationalistic stories

surfeit implies a nauseating repletion.

surfeited themselves with junk food

cloy stresses the disgust or boredom resulting from such surfeiting.

sentimental pictures that cloy after a while

pall emphasizes the loss of ability to stimulate interest or appetite.

a life of leisure eventually begins to pall

glut implies excess in feeding or supplying.

a market glutted with diet books

gorge suggests glutting to the point of bursting or choking.

gorged themselves with chocolate

Examples of cloy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But coming on the heels of the parade of similar content that we’ve been subjected to for the past several years in the world of superhero films and shows, the device cloys. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 12 June 2023 But look out for An Irish Goodbye, the only English-language nominee, which is just cloying enough to win. Vulture, 10 Mar. 2023 The acidity is well balanced with the sweetness so as not to be cloying at all. Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, Robb Report, 3 Mar. 2023 Too much of the former is more admired than loved, and too much of the latter can cloy. Tessa Watson, ELLE Decor, 22 Mar. 2023 Lengua gyutan, or beef tongue, soaked in a creamy mushroom gravy, seemed destined to cloy but turned out to be smooth, balanced, and savory. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2022 But before such moments can cloy, Arbery usefully complicates his case. New York Times, 22 June 2022 That sweetness can cloy if it’s not suitably chilled and diluted, which is why almost everyone chooses to make it on the rocks. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 16 Dec. 2021 The museum’s sacredness to many, including me, can cloy a little. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 8 Feb. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cloy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, to hinder, lame, alteration of acloyen to harm, maim, modification of Anglo-French encloer to nail, prick a horse with a nail in shoeing, from Medieval Latin inclavare, from Latin in + clavus nail

First Known Use

1528, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of cloy was in 1528

Dictionary Entries Near cloy

Cite this Entry

“Cloy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to supply with too much of something that was originally pleasing

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