• glean
  • audio pronunciation
  • \GLEEN\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
a : to pick up after a reaper b : to strip (as a field) of the leavings of reapers
2
a : to gather (as information) bit by bit b : to pick over in search of relevant material
3
: find out
  • EXAMPLES

Esther wouldn't tell us why she was upset, but by talking with others who had been at the party, we were able to glean what happened.

  • 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.

*Indicates the sense illustrated by the example sentence.

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