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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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
An extremely dependent person. Today this term is mildly pejorative—such a person is not considered particularly admirable—but earlier uses of this figure of speech carry no such criticism. Indeed, the vine in question, nearly always a woman or wife, was also praised for potential or actual fruitfulness (i.e., childbearing ability). “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house,” says the Book of Psalms (128:3).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer