Definition: To become weary from an excess – or surfeit – of food.

Pronunciation: Kloy 


A complicated one – bear with me! Middle English – late 14th century cloyen (to hinder movement/encumber). Traces its entrance into modern English in the 1520s, where it took on the meaning of  ‘to hinder movement due to gluttonus excess’. Originally from Old French accloyen (early 14th century – to fasten with a nail)– shortened in late 14th century to cloyen. Old French comes from encloer, ‘to hinder or stop’. From Late Latin inclavare, ‘to drive a nail into a horse’s hoof when shoeing’ (Latin clavus means ‘nail’).

Why This Word:

I was drawn to this word not because of the penchant I appear to have for words related to gluttony, but rather because of an apparent paradox in its meaning. Cloy derived from a word meaning to drive a nail into a horse’s hoof when shoeing – and is thus part of the process by which a horse’s movement becomes easier. However, it has come to mean something approaching an opposing meaning – namely, to eat so much that movement itself becomes difficult.

How to use the word cloy in a sentence? 

An example: “I remember the time I ate twelve pounds of mashed potato. After the eighth pound, it began to cloy.” (Note – this is an example. Though Irish, I have never had to eat more than four pounds of potato at a sitting …)


What do you think?

1000 points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


Leave a Reply