\ ˈglēm How to pronounce gleam (audio) \

Definition of gleam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a transient appearance of subdued or partly obscured light the gleam of dawn in the east
b(1) : a small bright light the gleam of a match
(2) : glint a gleam in his eyes
2 : a brief or faint appearance a gleam of hope


gleamed; gleaming; gleams

Definition of gleam (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to shine with or as if with subdued steady light or moderate brightness
2 : to appear briefly or faintly a light gleamed in the distance

transitive verb

: to cause to gleam

Other Words from gleam


gleamy \ ˈglē-​mē How to pronounce gleam (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for gleam


flash, gleam, glint, sparkle, glitter, glisten, glimmer, shimmer mean to send forth light. flash implies a sudden outburst of bright light. lightning flashed gleam suggests a steady light seen through an obscuring medium or against a dark background. lights gleamed in the valley glint implies a cold glancing light. glinting steel sparkle suggests innumerable moving points of bright light. the sparkling waters glitter connotes a brilliant sparkling or gleaming. glittering diamonds glisten applies to the soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface. glistening wet sidewalk glimmer suggests a faint or wavering gleam. a distant glimmering light shimmer means shining with a wavering light. a shimmering satin dress

Examples of gleam in a Sentence

Noun He saw the gleam of a flashlight in the distance. the rich gleam of the polished wood Verb The sun gleamed on the water. His eyes were gleaming with delight.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But then that green-jacket gleam returned to his eyes. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 The glitter goes a long way—just a few shakes from the $14 jar significantly coats a portion of food with enough gleam to feel both economical and special, like a showering of parm. Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Bon Appétit, 18 Mar. 2022 Interstate highways were but a gleam in future President Eisenhower’s eye. New York Times, 31 Mar. 2022 While all Pontiel jewels gleam with refined glass elements that were made in the four decades before World War II broke out, each one contains rare or one-of-a-kind elements. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 25 Mar. 2022 There are things car wax can do, and there are things car wax can’t do to improve your machine's gleam. Jack Keebler, Car and Driver, 22 Mar. 2022 Or two, which the Observer prefers: Even with the finish line in sight, there’s always something more to discover; a little more gleam to find on the season’s majestic doubloon. The Masked Observer, al, 2 Mar. 2022 The stores, now designed by the artist Daniel Arsham and his firm Snarkitecture, which has done similar work for Dior and Tiffany & Co., gleam in white marble and chrome; the products—regardless of price—are displayed like any It bag on Rodeo Drive. Kareem Rashed, Robb Report, 26 Feb. 2022 Before the plot kicks in, Decker, working with the cinematographer Ava Berkofsky, conjures a free-floating imagistic rapture of memory by way of sun, light, water, and gleam, with swooping and swirling camerawork. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 10 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Smith, a former Dr. Who, excels at the poor-little-rich-boy villainy of his character, a tragic aristocrat whose eyes gleam with mania. Leah Greenblatt,, 31 Mar. 2022 Small details gleam from the corners — the rippling beta-carotene richness of each furry panda filament; the excitable sidekick (Hyein Park) so tightly wound that even her affirmations come out like a WWE scream. Leah Greenblatt,, 7 Mar. 2022 But if brought into the light, their iridescent bodies will gleam, looking different from every angle. New York Times, 17 Feb. 2022 That’s when the roof’s composite panels gleam in the sun and the building comes to resemble a perfect wave gently curling into water before it. Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2022 And like a cherry on top of dessert, the egg should gleam with a brilliant, inviting flourish. Arlyn Osborne, Bon Appétit, 20 Jan. 2022 Sometimes the message is clear and obvious; other times the lesson lurks below the surface, dull now but ready to gleam with the right context. Christopher Hartnick, STAT, 4 Jan. 2022 To get your stone floors to gleam, scrub them with skim milk. Maria Cramer New York Times, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 Females are olive-brown and males chalky blue, except during breeding season, when the males gleam a flamboyant blue. New York Times, 16 Aug. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of gleam


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1508, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for gleam


Middle English gleem, from Old English glǣm; akin to Old English geolu yellow — more at yellow

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The first known use of gleam was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gleam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for gleam


\ ˈglēm How to pronounce gleam (audio) \

Kids Definition of gleam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a faint, soft, or reflected light the first gleam of dawn
2 : a bright or shining look She had a gleam in her eyes.
3 : a short or slight appearance a gleam of hope


gleamed; gleaming

Kids Definition of gleam (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to shine with a soft light
2 : to give out gleams of light

Choose the Right Synonym for gleam


gleam, sparkle, and glitter mean to send forth light. gleam is used when light shines through something else or is reflected or shines against a dark background. The lighthouse gleamed through the fog. sparkle is used for something that has several changing points of light. Water sparkled in the sunlight. glitter is used for a brilliant sparkling of light. The jewels glittered brightly.

More from Merriam-Webster on gleam

Nglish: Translation of gleam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gleam for Arabic Speakers


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