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clung ˈkləŋ How to pronounce cling (audio) ; clinging

intransitive verb

: to hold together
: to adhere as if glued firmly
The shirt clung to his wet shoulders.
: to hold or hold on tightly or tenaciously
The kitten clung to the narrow branch.
: to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence
he clung to his friends for support
: to remain or linger as if resisting complete spreading or scattering
The odor clung to the room for hours.
clinger noun


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plural clings
: an act or instance of clinging : adherence
: 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
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

Example Sentences

Verb The children clung together under the little umbrella waiting for the storm to pass. a dozen magnets clinging to the refrigerator Noun for certain types of materials that plastic wrap has very little cling
Recent Examples on the Web
Eastman drafted a plan for Trump to cling to power by falsely claiming that Pence could reject legitimate electors during the certification on Jan. 6. Jonathan Karl, ABC News, 19 Mar. 2023 Ukraine’s limited resources might therefore be better spent elsewhere, Muzyka and others posit, with the determination to cling to an increasingly perilous position in Bakhmut also threatening its ability to defend other positions in the area. Mithil Aggarwal, NBC News, 16 Mar. 2023 Put one on and run it over a surface with a lot of pet hair, and the hair will allegedly cling to the glove and come right off. Kalina Newman, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2023 Because life in the Big 12 — especially in the Big 12 — affords no time to cling to any one result, good or bad, with another beast always lurking right around the corner. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Mar. 2023 The one story optimists can still cling to is that the slowdown in rents on new leases will—with a lag—likely show up in slower housing inflation. Jason Furman, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 But there are still plenty of AMPAS folks who cling to an age-old paradigm. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 2 Mar. 2023 Combined, these offer a balance of savory, salty, and sweet flavors that cling to the vegetables and chicken, and make everything taste yummy. Christopher Michel, Country Living, 27 Feb. 2023 This project gave me an outlet, something to cling to, to slowly get out of that place. Alessia Glaviano, Vogue, 25 Jan. 2023
Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to the sauce; the starch in the water will help the sauce cling to the noodles even more. Marygrace Taylor, SELF, 2 Mar. 2023 This morning, teams of workshop participants are using sheets of plastic cling wrap to skim dead sperm off the surface of the swimming pools. Michelle Nijhuis, Discover Magazine, 12 Oct. 2018 Sweet, tangy dill and butter cling to tender, crisp potatoes. Sunset Staff, Sunset Magazine, 17 Nov. 2022 Install new ones with a low-E coating, or line old windowpanes with an adhesive or static-cling film. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Nov. 2022 Trace our free template onto a piece of thick plastic cling film to easily transfer the pattern to the pumpkin. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Sep. 2022 This spooky window cling features a light-up, 3D moon. Angela Belt, House Beautiful, 6 Sep. 2022 Timing, too, can help a vaccine’s protection cling. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 1 Dec. 2021 Most recently, a startup called Polymateria created a plastic cling film, intended for uses like packaging, that can break down within a year and also be recycled. Julian Chokkattu, Wired, 8 June 2021 See More

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.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


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


circa 1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near cling

Cite this Entry

“Cling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


; clinging
: to stick to as if glued
: to hold or hold on tightly
clung desperately to the ladder
: to remain close : be dependent
clings to the family

More from Merriam-Webster on cling

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