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).

Examples of glaucous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Well, not spotted per se, but definitely glabrous and glaucous. Murr Brewster, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Mar. 2024 Martha’s Vineyard: A royal tern at the Joseph Sylvia State Beach, an Acadian flycatcher at Waskosim’s Rock Reservation, a glaucous gull at Norton Point Beach, and a chuck-will’s-widow in Aquinnah. Isabela Rocha,, 1 July 2023 On a Zodiac ride off Alkefjellet, the air is alive with birds, including tens of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots as well as glaucous gulls and kittiwakes, which nest in that island’s cliffs, while a young male polar bear munches on a ring seal, chin glistening red. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 23 Apr. 2023 Though the tribe still requires the park’s permission to harvest traditional foods like the salmon that are recolonizing streams on their ancestral homeland, there have been small advances—such as reestablishment of the annual Huna Tlingit harvest of glaucous-winged gull eggs. Lesley Evans Ogden, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2023 In Fairhaven, two snowy egrets, two greater yellowlegs and a short-eared owl at Winsegansett Marsh, a glaucous gull at Fort Phoenix State Reservation, a clapper rail. Isabela Rocha,, 1 Apr. 2023 Another, or perhaps the same glaucous gull was at Dowse’s Beach in Osterville again., 22 Mar. 2023 Two Iceland gulls and a glaucous gull at Sawmill Pond in Fitchburg, two Iceland gulls at gate 37 of the Wachusett Reservoir, two sandhill cranes at the Dexter Drumlin Reservation and a large continuing flock of evening grosbeaks in Royalston. Isabela Rocha,, 11 Feb. 2023 Two sandhill cranes in Lancaster, a glaucous gull at Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, a Lapland longspur at Fitchburg Municipal Airport and 40 evening grosbeaks in Royalston., 28 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'glaucous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 Jun. 2024.

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