Printable Version
Pronunciation: kloy Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1.To nauseate by being too pleasant tasting or smelling, especially too sweet. 2. To clog, to satiate, to burden.

Notes: The adjective accompanying this word is the form most often encountered in English, as a cloying smell. It has drifted away from the original meaning of the verb cloy, though. The original meaning, now archaic, of cloy was "to nail", and was used especially to render a gun useless by driving a nail in the touch hole. This led to the sense of "obstruct", especially the digestive system with too much food, a meaning which is still in use.

In Play: The second meaning of today's word is still current, though we don't hear it or read it very often: "Not to cloy you with particulars, I wrecked our car somewhat tonight." The first meaning is used often enough in sentences like this: "Children and puppies in TV commercials tend to cloy after a while."

Word History: Aphesis is the omission of some initial part of a word, as in 'coon for raccoon and squire for esquire. Today's Good Word is an aphetic form for obsolete accloy "to nail, to clog" from Middle English acloien. English borrowed this word from Old French encloer "to nail, to drive a nail into", which it inherited from Medieval Latin inclavare, based on Latin in- "in" + clavare "to nail", from clavus "nail". Do not confuse clavus with clavis "key", which English borrowed in clavicle and clavier. Even though they ultimately come from the same Proto-Indo-European word, by the time it arrived in Latin, it had acquired two endings and two different meanings. Apparently a bent nail originally served as a key.

Dr. Goodword,

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