cloy·​ing ˈklȯi-iŋ How to pronounce cloying (audio)
: 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
cloyingly adverb

Did you know?

We won’t bore you with the sappy tale behind the word cloying, because happily, there isn’t one. That’s because its history isn’t sweet, but rather tough as nails. Cloying comes from the verb cloy, which had among its earliest uses the meaning (to quote the Oxford English Dictionary) “to render [a gun] useless by driving a spike or plug into the touch-hole.” This ultra-specific sense of clogging and stuffing arose alongside both broader and figurative ones, including “to fill or choke up,” and cloy has since come to mean “to supply or indulge to excess.” Accordingly, cloying implies a nauseating amount of something that might be pleasing in smaller doses, especially both literal and metaphorical sweetness.

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 Our tasters were looking for: An ice cream base that’s creamy (not icy), sweet (not cloying), and judicious with its vanilla. Sam Stone, Bon Appétit, 3 July 2024 What Parents Like: The action is never too cloying or sweet, thanks to Will Ferrell's innocent elf-child, who is sweet, hyper, and excitable. Suelain Moy, Parents, 14 June 2024 The balanced blend of chocolate and vanilla, anchored in seductive Hinoki wood, makes this scent sweet without feeling cloying. Pia Velasco, Allure, 10 June 2024 The icing was sweet but not cloying, with a touch of lemon. Kimberly Cataudella Tutuska, Miami Herald, 3 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for cloying 

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

Word History


see cloy

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cloying was in 1594


Dictionary Entries Near cloying

Cite this Entry

“Cloying.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

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