Penny asked about the
word cling. It’s an Old English word that owes its existence to similar words
found in East Frisian, Danish, Swedish, and allied languages. The sense of “sticking
together” was a common element.
At first, the word
described liquids that had frozen or congealed. Then it was applied to the
shriveling of animal or human tissue. The idea of adherence and attachment soon
followed, with a strong image of arms wrapping around something. It also
applied to a garment, especially when wet. Cleaving to an idea or a practice
was another offshoot.
Cousins to cling include
clench and clink. To clench is to bend back the pointed end of a nail after
driving it through a board in order to fix it securely. The associated meaning
of clink is to rivet or fasten.
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