|Chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sauce|
(photo by Kim)
Verb. Late Middle English.
[Aphetic from ACCLOY.]
1 verb trans. obsolete. Pierce (as) with a nail; especially = ACCLOY. LME-E18
2(a) verb trans. Stop up, block (a passage etc.);
choke, fill up; clog, encumber. LME-M17
2(b) verb trans. Spike (a gun). Now rare. E17
3 verb trans. & intrans. Satiate, weary, or nauseate by richness, sweetness, sameness,
or excess, of food, pleasure, attention, etc. (Followed by with.) M16
cloyingly adv. in a cloying manner or degree. E20
cloyless adj. that does not cloy. E17
cloyment noun (rare, Shakespearean) satiety. Only in E17
cloysome adj. (rare) tending to cloy. E17
I had been vacillating somewhat over whether to include cloy in Lexicolatry. Its etymology isn't particularly remarkable, evolving from the obsolete word accloy, meaning to overfill, to burden or to disgust, which itself is derived from the medieval Latin clavus, 'nail'. However ...
... I do like the word - it's cloyingly phonosemantic, with its satisfyingly cloopy, clotting, clumpy phonemes. My mind was made up, however, when I explained the meaning of cloy to my niece who was unfamiliar with it. "Wow!" she said, "What a brilliantly useful word!"
And she's right - cloy is a brilliant word, and one that should be in everyone's active vocabulary. It can describe everything from a thick wedge of chocolate cake, smothered in chocolate sauce under a mound of whipped cream, to the cloyingly close attentions of an over-enthusiastic friend whom you like, but perhaps not quite as much as they seem to like you. And finally, any word with the power to make a teenager's face beam with lexical enthusiasm has, by my reckoning, earned its place in the hallowed pages of Lexicolatry.
Is cloy in your active vocabulary?
How do you use cloy?
Do please weary us with the sweetness of your comments below.