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

Other Words from cloying

cloyingly adverb

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"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 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 Although there is much profound emotion expressed in this book, Prince Dimitri’s tale is never sentimental or cloying. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2022 Basically, this is an excuse for everyone to sensually smell each other and make extremely cloying, on-the-nose (LOL) observations. Jessica Goldstein, Vulture, 24 Dec. 2021 Machiavellian approach to the apocalypse is, if nothing else, much less cloying than Morgan’s bottomless piety. Erik Kain, Forbes, 17 Oct. 2021 All are ideally suited to this time of year — as warming and satisfying as a pumpkin spice latte but far less cloying. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Sep. 2021 Suddenly, musical gestures that seemed cloying to me felt jubilant, or even inspiring. New York Times, 16 July 2021 Strawberry icing and sponge dissolved in a cloying paste on her tongue as Korean pop music—the aides’ favorite—streamed from the radio. Rachel Heng, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 Watermelon Jolly Rancher flavors are ripe and generous in the best possible sense, and never come off sweet or cloying. Brian Freedman, Forbes, 17 June 2021 But there are times when even that team spirit is excessive and cloying. Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2021

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

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cloying.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of cloying

: too sweet, pleasant, or emotional

More from Merriam-Webster on cloying

Britannica English: Translation of cloying for Arabic Speakers


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