The Meaning of Clingy: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of clingy? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word clingy, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word clingy mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Dictionary, the word clingy is an adjective that can be used both literally and figuratively. The word clingy can be used to mean adherent, or tending to stick to a surface upon contact, such as cling film or a tight-fitting gown or a clingy scarf. It can also be used figuratively to describe someone who stays very close to a person for emotional support or protection. This clingy behavior can be exhibited by a girlfriend, boyfriend, or child. One could even have a clingy friend or a clingy parent. This neediness can cause a lack of boundaries that is unhealthy for a relationship to have. Clingy partners do not have independence for their own life, and have tough times when breakups happen. Needing to be by your partner’s side could be caused by insecurity or comfortability. A clingy girlfriend might need to know your whereabouts or social media activity at all times, or a clingy boyfriend might need constant reassurance or motivation. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean clingy. You may notice that some of these words look similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words that look and sound similar between languages and also have the same meaning. This list of translations for the word clingy is provided by Word Sense. 

  • Portuguese: grudento‎, pegajoso‎
  • Romanian: lipicios‎
  • Maori: ngingita‎, kūpiapia‎
  • Japanese: ベタベタする‎ (betabeta suru)
  • Volapük: kleböfik‎
  • Finnish: ihonmyötäinen‎, vartalonmukainen‎
  • German: anhänglich‎ (person or aninmal), anhaftend‎ (object)
  • Polish: lepki‎
  • Yiddish: קלעפּיק‎
  • French: collant‎ (masc.), collante‎ (fem.)
  • Armenian: կպչուն‎
  • Latvian: lipīgs‎
  • Estonian: kleepuv‎
  • Galician: pegañento‎, pegañoso‎, apegadizo‎
  • Hungarian: tapadós‎, ragadós‎
  • Irish: greamaitheach‎
  • Scottish Gaelic: leanailteach‎
  • Catalan: enganxós‎, apegalós‎
  • Asturian: pegañosu‎
  • Russian: ли́пкий‎, кле́йкий‎
  • Spanish: pegajoso‎

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word clingy?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word clingy. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a very useful tool because they can help you avoid repeating yourself and they can also help you expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word clingy is provided by Thesaurus

  • clinging
  • hugging
  • gummed
  • persisting
  • adhesive
  • bound
  • adhering
  • gooey
  • resolute
  • glutinous
  • possessive
  • retentive
  • secure
  • gummy
  • attaching
  • forceful
  • unshakable
  • mulish
  • resinous
  • viscose
  • unforgetful
  • viscous
  • viscid
  • adamant
  • stalwart
  • inseparable
  • tough
  • set
  • coherent
  • sturdy
  • purposeful
  • mucilaginous
  • fast
  • waxy
  • stubborn
  • true
  • resisting
  • staunch
  • fixed
  • firm
  • iron
  • steadfast
  • adherent
  • tacky
  • meaning business
  • tenacious
  • spunky
  • obdurate
  • tight
  • agglutinant
  • strong-willed
  • pertinacious
  • solid
  • persistent
  • unswerving
  • sure
  • stout
  • persevering
  • pasty
  • dogged
  • inflexible
  • determined
  • gelatinous
  • intransigent
  • cohesive
  • holding
  • sticky
  • obstinate
  • relentless

There are also numerous different words that mean the opposite of the word clingy. These are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another quick and easy ebay to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word clingy is also provided by Thesaurus

  • loosened
  • unfettered
  • baggy
  • clear
  • flabby
  • at large
  • unbolted
  • unlatched
  • slack
  • insecure
  • flaccid
  • unhooked
  • unattached
  • wobbly
  • apart
  • released
  • unrestrained
  • slackened
  • uncaged
  • unconnected
  • not fitting
  • unrestricted
  • unconfined
  • limp
  • disconnected
  • untied
  • lax
  • movable
  • unfastened
  • asunder
  • free
  • relaxed
  • hanging
  • unpinned
  • easy
  • unsecured
  • unclasped
  • unbuttoned
  • separate
  • floating
  • unbound
  • unhinged
  • sloppy
  • unlocked
  • detached
  • unshackled
  • escaped
  • liberated
  • loose
  • undone

What is the origin of the word clingy?

According to Etymonilne, the word clingy has been used since the 1680s to refer to things that are adhesive. It has been used with regards to people since 1969, though being known as a clingy vine in a relationship has occurred since 1896. The word clingy was formed from the noun cling. Cling comes from the Old English clingan meaning to hold fast or to adhere. The past tense of this strong verb was clang, and the past participle clungen. This word comes from the Proto-Germanic klingg, which is also the source of the Danish klynge, Old High German klinga, Old Norse klengjask, Danish klinke, Dutch klinken, and German klinke. This word became known to mean to adhere to in Middle English around 1600. This was used figuratively in the 1580s, and used to describe clingy fabric in 1792. Related words include clinginess, clung, clingstone, clench, and clutch. 

How can the word clingy be used in a sentence?

The word clingy can be used both literally and figuratively to describe things that stick to other things. Usually, the word clingy has a negative connotation. THis is not always the case when it is used literally, but particularly when describing a romantic partner, being clingy is not a good thing.  In this first example, Rachel is trying on prom dresses with her mom. 

Rachel: What do you think?

Mom: I love it! You look beautiful. How do you feel?

Rachel: I don’t know. I like the top, but I hate how clingy it is around my stomach. I feel like I’m going to be sucking in all night.

Here, Rachel used the word clingy to describe the fabric of the dress. She does not like the way that it sticks to her stomach. In this next example, the word clingy will be used figuratively. Rachel talks to her mom the morning after prom.

Rachel: Good morning.

Mom: Good morning! How was the dance? Tell me everything!

Rachel: The dance itself was fine, but Ryan was a total pain the whole time. He’s so clingy. At one point I wanted to go dance with my friends and he stopped me because he didn’t want to be alone for two minutes. 

Here, Rachel describes her prom date as clingy. He would not leave her alone for the entire night and Rachel felt like she was being suffocated. 

Overall, the word clingy is an adjective that is used to describe things that are adherent, whether literally or figuratively. A piece of fabric can be clingy, but so can a romantic partner. The word clingy is often used as a negative when used figuratively. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today!

Sources:

  1. https://www.etymonline.com/word/clingy#etymonline_v_28195
  2. https://www.etymonline.com/word/cling?ref=etymonline_crossreference
  3. https://www.wordsense.eu/clingy/
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/clingy
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/loose
  6. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clingy
  7. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/clingy