glau·​cous ˈglȯ-kəs How to pronounce glaucous (audio)
: of a pale yellow-green color
: of a light bluish-gray or bluish-white color
: having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance and tends to rub off
glaucousness noun

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Glaucous Has Greek and Latin Origins

Glaucous came to English—by way of Latin glaucus—from Greek glaukos, meaning "gleaming" or "gray," and has been used to describe a range of pale colors from a yellow-green to a bluish-gray. The word is often found in horticultural writing describing the pale color of the leaves of various plants as well as the powdery bloom that can be found on some fruits and leaves. The stem glauc- appears in some other English words, the most familiar of which is glaucoma, referring to a disease of the eye that can result in gradual loss of vision. Glauc- also appears in the not-so-familiar glaucope, a word used to describe someone with fair hair and blue eyes (and a companion to cyanope, the term for someone with fair hair and brown eyes).

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web As always, birds, birds, and more birds will be your companions, particularly black guillemots and glaucous gulls. John Oseid, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2022 The apparatus started up and loudly released a burst of glaucous exhaust. Vladimir Sorokin, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 Elsewhere in Fairhaven, there was a glaucous gull at Fort Phoenix and an early willow flycatcher on Egypt Lane., 7 May 2022 Its broad leaves, in colors that range from glaucous green to a pale yellow, form a spilling fountain shape. Earl Nickel, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Sep. 2021 The real hazards are the predators—mainly Arctic foxes, but also glaucous gulls—that await the goslings on their route from the cliff bottom to the water’s edge. National Geographic, 28 Mar. 2019 Birds noted on South Monomoy Island included 2 blue-winged teal, 3 Northern shovelers, 14 Northern pintails, a glaucous gull, 5 American oystercatchers, and a snowy owl., 30 Apr. 2018 Hens and chicks and their relations do have a certain rubbery, glaucous charm. Bart Ziegler, WSJ, 15 June 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'glaucous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin glaucus, from Greek glaukos gleaming, gray

First Known Use

1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of glaucous was in 1671


Dictionary Entries Near glaucous

Cite this Entry

“Glaucous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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