cloy·​ing | \ ˈklȯi-iŋ How to pronounce cloying (audio) , ˈklȯiŋ \

Definition of cloying

: disgusting or distasteful by reason of excess cloying sweetness also : excessively sweet or sentimental a cloying romantic comedy Her coyness grows cloying after a while … — Elysa Gardner

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Other Words from cloying

cloyingly adverb

Did You Know?

Can one desire too much of a good thing? asks Rosalind in William Shakespeare's play As You Like It. "Cloying" suggests that you can, because it implies a repugnant excess of something that might be pleasing in smaller doses. An exploration into the history of "cloying," however, leads us eventually to roots that are neither sweet nor excessive, but rather tough as nails. Cloying derives from the verb "cloy," which now means "to supply or indulge to excess," but which once meant "to clog" and earlier "to prick a horse with a nail in shoeing." "Cloy" itself traces via Middle English to Anglo-French encloer (which also meant "to prick a horse with a nail in shoeing") and ultimately to the Latin clavus, meaning "nail."

Examples of cloying in a Sentence

After a while, the softness of his voice becomes cloying. the cloying sentiments of so many Mother's Day cards
Recent Examples on the Web It’s cloying and claustrophobic, a silly, rich woman’s folly. Hillary Kelly, The New Yorker, "“The Age of Innocence” at a Moment of Increased Appetite for Eating the Rich," 26 Dec. 2020 Smiley strives to avoid a cloying tale about getting along. Washington Post, "Jane Smiley’s new novel gives voice to her favorite animal, the horse," 1 Dec. 2020 Post-Prohibition, pre-mixed cocktails got a bad rap for tasting cloying and synthetic. Amanda Schuster,, "Ready-to-Drink Booze Is Winning the Stay-at-Home Drinking Game," 15 May 2020 These milky dough balls are incredibly soft and submerged in a syrup that is just shy of cloying, making for the ideal bite-sized ending to a meal. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Indian restaurant in Middletown serves flavorful dishes flecked with vibrant spices," 18 Mar. 2020 On the wilder side are one buzzing with coffee’s pleasantly bitter edge and another sweet (but not cloying) with strawberry. Los Angeles Times, "20 great L.A. places for Mexican food delivery and takeout," 3 Apr. 2020 VanderWaal captures the character's innate sweetness with a charm that, almost magically, never veers into cloying sentimentality. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch in theaters or stream at home this weekend," 13 Mar. 2020 Avocados are no stranger to cocktails in the occasional sense, typically muddled or infused; their flesh offers velvety texture without the cloying sweetness of banana and a Grinch-green shade that’s visually arresting. Marc Ramirez, Dallas News, "An avocado toast shot? It’s just a slice of this Dallas restaurant’s avocado cocktail lineup," 23 Feb. 2020 Sweet ― but not cloying ― the tasty drink is low in alcohol (5.5% ABV), light on the palate and very thirst-quenching. Marc Ramirez, Dallas News, "Legendary Finnish ‘long drink’ makes Texas debut," 24 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cloying.' 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 cloying

1594, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cloying

see cloy

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Time Traveler for cloying

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The first known use of cloying was in 1594

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cloying.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for cloying


How to pronounce cloying (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cloying

disapproving : too sweet, pleasant, or emotional

More from Merriam-Webster on cloying

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cloying

Britannica English: Translation of cloying for Arabic Speakers

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