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clinging vine

A person, typically a woman, whose relationship with someone or others is characterized by emotional overdependence and/or helplessness. I was at first attracted to her intrepid sense of adventure, but when we began dating, it became obvious she was a bit of a clinging vine emotionally.
See also: cling, vine

cling on by (one's) fingernails

1. Literally, to grasp something, such as a cliff, with one's fingernails to avoid falling. The stranded hiker was clinging on by her fingernails until the rescue crew arrived.
2. By extension, to narrowly avoid problems or failure. They're clinging on by their fingernails out there—the other team's offensive is totally overwhelming them. Now that I have three small children to care for, I feel as if I'm clinging on by my fingernails every day.
See also: cling, fingernail, on

cling on by (one's) fingertips

1. Literally, to grasp something, such as a cliff, with one's fingertips to avoid falling. The stranded hiker was clinging on by her fingertips until the rescue crew arrived.
2. By extension, to narrowly avoid problems or failure. They're clinging on by their fingertips out there—the other team's offensive is totally overwhelming them. Now that I have three small children to care for, I feel as if I'm clinging on by my fingertips every day.
See also: cling, fingertip, on

cling to (someone or something)

1. Literally, to hold on to someone or something tightly. The little girl clung to her dad's legs and cried as he tried to leave for work. I clung to the side of the rock and prayed that a search party would find me.
2. By extension, to remain devoted to or entrenched in something, often a belief or opinion. In this ever-changing world, you can't just stubbornly cling to your old beliefs.
See also: cling

cling together

1. Of two or more things, to adhere to one another. The pages in this book are so thin that they usually cling together.
2. Of two or more people, to hold each other tightly. The wind was so strong that we had to cling together just to cross the parking lot!
See also: cling, together

hang on by (one's) fingernails

1. Literally, to grasp something, such as a cliff, with one's fingernails to avoid falling. The stranded hiker was hanging on by her fingernails until the rescue crew arrived.
2. By extension, to narrowly avoid problems or failure. They're hanging on by their fingernails out there—the other team's offensive is totally overwhelming them. Now that I have three small children to care for, I feel as if I'm hanging on by my fingernails every day.
See also: fingernail, hang, on

hang on by (one's) fingertips

1. Literally, to grasp something, such as a cliff, with one's fingertips to avoid falling. The stranded hiker was hanging on by her fingertips until the rescue crew arrived.
2. By extension, to narrowly avoid problems or failure. They're hanging on by their fingertips out there—the other team's offensive is totally overwhelming them. Now that I have three small children to care for, I feel as if I'm hanging on by my fingertips every day.
See also: fingertip, hang, on

cling to someone or something

 
1. Lit. to hold on tight to someone or something. The child clung tightly to his mother. As she drifted in the sea, she clung to a floating log.
2. Fig. to hold onto the thought or memory of someone or something; to have a strong emotional attachment to or dependence on someone or something. Her immigrant parents clung to the old ways. Harold clung to the memory of his grandmother.
See also: cling

cling together

[for two or more people or animals] to hold on tightly to each other. The two children clung together throughout the ordeal. The baby baboon and its mother clung together and could not be separated.
See also: cling, together

clinging vine

An overly dependent person, as in A clinging vine since her marriage, she's never made a decision on her own. Nearly always applied to a woman (or wife), this metaphor for a climbing plant today criticizes dependency rather than, as in former times, praising the vine's fruitfulness.
See also: cling, vine

cling like shit to a shovel

and stick like shit to a shovel
1. in. to stick or adhere [to someone or something] tightly. (Usually objectionable.) That oily stuff sticks like shit to a shovel.
2. in. to be very dependent on someone; to follow someone around. (Often with an indirect object. Usually objectionable.) She’s so dependent. She clings to him like shit to a shovel. He hates her, but he sticks like shit to a shovel.
See also: cling, like, shit, shovel
References in classic literature ?
Master Andry," pursued Jean Jehan, still clinging to his capital, "hold your tongue, or I'll drop on your head
demanded Jehan Frollo du Moulin, who, as he was clinging to one of the inner pillars, could not see what was going on outside.
Now, Princess," exclaimed the Wizard, "those of your advisors who wished to throw us into the Garden of Clinging Vines must step within this circle of light.
As it is evident that my people have advised me wrongly, I will not cast you three people into the dreadful Garden of the Clinging Vines; but your animals must be driven into the Black Pit in the mountain, for my subjects cannot bear to have them around.
He had come down to within twenty feet of the bottom, and there, clinging with one hand to a small ledge, and with his feet resting, precariously upon tiny bushes that grew from the solid face of the rock, he lowered the point of his long spear until it hung some six feet above the ground.
I made a frantic effort to reach Ja's hand, the sithic gave a tremendous tug that came near to jerking Ja from his frail hold on the surface of the rock, the spear slipped from his fingers, and still clinging to it I plunged feet foremost toward my executioner.
Inextricably entangled in the mess to which he was clinging were numerous other landing hooks such as he had attached to the warrior's harness, and with one of these he sought to secure himself until the storm should abate sufficiently to permit him to climb to the deck, but even as he reached for one that swung near him the ship was caught in a renewed burst of the storm's fury, the thrashing cordage whipped and snapped to the lunging of the great craft and one of the heavy metal hooks, lashing through the air, struck the Jed of Gathol fair between the eyes.
Clinging to the rope Gahan lowered himself within the enclosure, where he had his first close view of the creatures lying there in what he had thought sleep.
Anne, clinging desperately to her precarious foothold, saw their flying forms and heard their shrieks.
There was no help for it; Anne, clinging to Gilbert Blythe's hand, scrambled down into the dory, where she sat, drabbled and furious, in the stern with her arms full of dripping shawl and wet crepe.
With a scream like that of an angry giant it tore away the ropes that held the coop and lifted it high into the air, with Dorothy still clinging to the slats.
The bottom of the coop was made of thick boards, so Dorothy found she was clinging to a sort of raft, with sides of slats, which readily bore up her weight.
The sight of the boy clinging, sobbing, to his mother aroused within his savage breast a melancholy loneliness.
Nay, the time came when I took joy in the run of the masthead and in the clinging on by my legs at that precarious height while I swept the sea with glasses in search of the boats.
Or else, they grasp at sweetmeats, and mock at their childishness thereby: they cling to their straw of life, and mock at their still clinging to it.