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verb \ˈglēn\

Simple Definition of glean

  • : to gather or collect (something) in a gradual way

  • : to search (something) carefully

  • : to gather grain or other material that is left after the main crop has been gathered

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of glean

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to gather grain or other produce left by reapers

  3. 2 :  to gather information or material bit by bit

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 a :  to pick up after a reaper b :  to strip (as a field) of the leavings of reapers

  6. 2 a :  to gather (as information) bit by bit b :  to pick over in search of relevant material <gleaning old files for information>

  7. 3 :  find out

gleanable play \ˈglē-nə-bəl\ adjective
gleaner noun

Examples of glean in a sentence

  1. She gleaned her data from various studies.

  2. He has a collection of antique tools gleaned from flea markets and garage sales.

  3. They spent days gleaning the files for information.

  4. They spent hours gleaning in the wheat fields.

  5. gleaning stray ears of corn

Did You Know?

Glean comes from Middle English glenen, which traces to Anglo-French glener, meaning "to glean." The French borrowed their word from Late Latin glennare, which also means "to glean" and is itself of Celtic origin. Both the grain-gathering sense and the collecting-bit-by-bit senses of our glean date back at least to the 14th century. Over the years, and especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, glean has also come to be used frequently with the meaning "to find out, learn, ascertain." This sense has been criticized by folks who think glean should always imply the drudgery involved in the literal grain-gathering sense, but it is well established and perfectly valid.

Origin of glean

Middle English glenen, from Anglo-French glener, from Late Latin glennare, of Celtic origin; akin to Old Irish doglenn he selects

First Known Use: 14th century

GLEAN Defined for Kids


verb \ˈglēn\

Definition of glean for Students


  1. 1 :  to gather from a field what is left by the harvesters

  2. 2 :  to gather (as information) little by little with patient effort

Learn More about glean

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up glean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

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