\ 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

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Other Words from gleam


gleamy \ ˈglē-​mē How to pronounce gleamy (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


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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Schwarzenegger and Hamilton’s re-teaming was expected to draw a larger audience, but the gleam might be off their pairing. Rosy Cordero,, "Terminator: Dark Fate falls short of expectations, still wins weekend with $29 million opening," 3 Nov. 2019 But sussing out what gives the dunes their dazzling gleam might help researchers figure out what’s going on in the mesosphere as well. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "A New Type of Aurora Ripples Across the Sky in Horizontal Green ‘Dunes’," 29 Jan. 2020 Butler was a fireplug of man, with glasses and a thick neck, wearing a sharply creased dress white uniform that seemed to almost gleam under the courtroom’s fluorescent lights. T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, "The Navy installed touch-screen steering systems to save money.," 20 Dec. 2019 Bozier enhances his technical precision with a maniacal gleam in his eye and a carriage that oozes carnality. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake," 6 Dec. 2019 Bask in the mesmerizing gleams of special installations and kinetic sculptures, take a shine to illuminating exhibits, and show your sparkle with scintillating activities., "Shine with the Exploratorium's Glow: Festival of Lights," 29 Nov. 2019 Even if the Bears win in Detroit, giving them a .500 record heading into the Dec. 5 prime-time meeting with the Cowboys, much of the matchup’s initial gleam is gone. Phil Rosenthal,, "The NFL and its TV partners bet big on the Bears this season, so America’s viewers have been force-fed a lot of Mitch Trubisky," 28 Nov. 2019 However the cozy mood lighting could not diminish the gleam of the gems to be auctioned, beckoning us toward their glass cabinets for a close-up of jewels from the world’s leading maisons. Vogue, "Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis Hosted a Dinner to Celebrate Her Curation of Sotheby’s Jewelry Auction Last Night in London," 18 Oct. 2019 Gray offers an extended extreme closeup of Roy being subjected to the jittery and distorting shake of a space mission, with eerily pure gleams of light on his helmet’s glassy mask—but without the hallucinatory visions. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Ad Astra,” Reviewed: James Gray’s Masterwork of Personal Film in an Alien Setting," 19 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Both grabbed and held listeners through the sheer dynamic force of propulsive strings, thumping percussion, and gleaming brass. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra soars in Sibelius, Knussen with boost from gifted champions," 7 Feb. 2020 Most of its schools operated in gleaming new buildings, thanks to tens of millions of dollars in donations from the Thompson Foundation. Koby Levin, Detroit Free Press, "CEO's abrupt departure raises questions for one of Detroit’s largest charter networks," 1 Feb. 2020 There’s the waitress setting her tables with gleaming cutlery for the day’s business. Simon Parkin, The New Yorker, "The Joy of Being a Horrible Goose in a Time of Moral Crisis," 17 Oct. 2019 James Wilson for Quartz On a recent Wednesday in Manhattan, game designers, lobbyists, aficionados, educators, and technologists gathered at the gleaming, glassy, modern offices of the World Economic Forum. Mary Pilon, Quartz, "How the gaming industry is changing across the world," 22 Jan. 2020 The violin, crafted in 1727 and called Vesuvio, gleams red in the soft light of the auditorium. Chuck Squatriglia, Popular Science, "Inside the extraordinary experiment to save the Stradivarius sound," 10 Jan. 2020 Prepare to turn your notion of rural Kentucky upside down at this gleaming, contemporary and collaborative distillery. Dana Mcmahan, The Courier-Journal, "Sip, sip, repeat. Here's how to spend the ultimate 48 hours in bourbon country," 30 Jan. 2019 And not far away, classic car owners were showing off meticulously restored Chevy Impalas and Lincoln Continentals, their chrome accents gleaming under the midday sun. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hispanic heritage celebrated with bejeweled quinceañera gowns, restored low riders and mariachi music," 12 Oct. 2019 On Saturday night, Notre Dame marched into Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., golden domes gleaming under the lights, and stood its ground against Georgia. Los Angeles Times, "With Georgia’s win over Notre Dame, college football’s top tiers remain SEC-heavy," 22 Sep. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for gleam

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for gleam

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gleam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for gleam


How to pronounce gleam (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gleam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small, bright light
: a bright or shining quality
: a small amount or sign of something



English Language Learners Definition of gleam (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shine brightly


\ 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gleam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gleam

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gleam

Spanish Central: Translation of gleam

Nglish: Translation of gleam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gleam for Arabic Speakers

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