• cloy •
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To be too rich or sweet. 2. To jade, to provide with too much of something pleasant.
Notes: Today's still Good Word is currently used almost exclusively in its adjectival and adverbal forms, cloying and cloyingly. The common noun is cloyingness, but Shakespeare used cloyment in Twelfth Night (1601): "That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt." There is also an odd negative adjective, cloyless, as in "cloyless dark chocolate truffles".
In Play: Of course, you will most often hear the adjective from today's Good Word: "She thought the cloying smell of lilies inappropriate for a first date." However, do not forget the verb underlying the adjective: "Cloyed by too much success, Seamus Allgood's life began to drift far off its original course."
Word History: This Good Word is a clipping of obsolete accloy "to clog (up)" from Old French encloer "to drive a nail into", created from clou "nail". The French verb comes from Medieval Latin inclavare, comprising in "in" + clavare "to nail", a verb derived from clavus "nail, peg". Clavus is also related to clavis "key", found in clavicle, clavichord, and the noun, conclave, the group that chooses popes behind locked doors. The original word came to the Germanic languages as German schliessen "to close" and English slot, apparently from the sense of a hole for a peg of some kind.
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