See that? I used glom onto as if I were a magnet and all that campus gunk were iron, or as if I were a spoon sliding through a pot of honey. I just can't stop all that stuff from sticking to me.
But that's wrong, or it may be wrong, depending on what dictionary you look at. Dictionary.com suggests that the word springs from the Scots glaum or glahm "to snatch at" or "to steal." (No relation to gloaming, which comes to us from Old English glom meaning twilight.)
All the definitions I found allow glom to be used alone transitively meaning to steal, to grab or catch, even (colloquially) to arrest. The Dictionary of American Slang offers the following sentence: "He gloms just about everything he needs."
I don't know about you, but if I wanted to snatch a word to use in that sort of sentence, I would never glom glom. (Except I just did it. Doesn't it sound odd?) But perhaps glom agglomerates different meanings when it becomes glom onto.
Um, no. Here is the full entry:
glom onto: to take hold or possession of: He wanted to glom onto some of that money.Sure, but if our nameless hero succeeds in snatching some cash, does the money glom onto him? If I accumulate campus gunk, does it glom onto me or do I glom onto it?
I suppose the OED would provide enlightenment, but I would have to venture out and drive to campus and use the online OED database, which I can't access from home. The very thought of driving out in the gloaming to explore the roots of glom makes me gloomy--but does gloom glom onto me? I wish I knew.