\ 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


He saw the gleam of a flashlight in the distance. the rich gleam of the polished wood


The sun gleamed on the water. His eyes were gleaming with delight.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has his way, Earth’s skies will soon be spangled with about 12,000 false stars—the speeding, reflected gleams from a mega-constellation of telecommunications satellites collectively called Starlink. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "Will Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites harm astronomy? Here’s what we know.," 29 May 2019 What allows him to see the gleam in subjects that would strike others, on their face, as dull? Kate Dailey, Vox, "Michael Lewis reads my mind," 5 June 2019 All the stories in this book are good, but some gleam with a special luster; they’ve been polished by time, and no one is meant to get hung up on the details. Max Watman, WSJ, "Southern food and Southern Charm," 11 Apr. 2018 Similarly, the gleam of the polished nickel hardware is a nice contrast to rough-hewn flooring and antique furniture. Ayn-monique Tetreault-rooney Klahre, Woman's Day, "What's Your Decorating Style?," 9 Nov. 2010 Consider New Years Eve your carte blanch for dialing the glam and gleam on your outfits all the way up. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "6 Chic New Years Eve Outfit Ideas," 17 Dec. 2018 Just before Lima stepped into the limo, Ta dabbed on a brownish matte lip and a wash of illuminating highlighter to her décolletage—just the thing for catching the inevitable gleam of the camera flash. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "How Adriana Lima Got Ready for the amfAR Gala in Cannes," 18 May 2018 The album—one long and deeply satisfying piece, and three brief ones—gleams with new sonic delights, mostly drawn from the interplay of three accomplished and unconventional pianists: David Virelles, David Bryant and Luis Perdomo. Larry Blumenfeld, WSJ, "‘Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus’ and ‘Dirt… and More Dirt’ Reviews," 22 May 2018 Those yellow jersey gleam as brightly as ever but in a modern age, Brazil's soccer has lost some of its twinkle. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Brazil is no longer the class of world soccer," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Although Ad, 87, wasn’t in Baltimore for his grandson’s introduction, Randy and his wife, Carol, and daughter, Josie, couldn’t stop gleaming while watching Adley’s first moments in an Orioles jersey. Nathan Ruiz,, "Adley Rutschman's signing brings Orioles scout full circle: 'He really made it about connecting with the family'," 28 June 2019 The chef’s kitchen, which has an island and a wine fridge, is a study in contrasts, with gleaming white cabinetry and dark accents. Neal J. Leitereg,, "R&B hitmaker Brian McKnight lists Chatsworth home with a view," 18 June 2019 But the family’s gleaming facade hides an ugly truth, and Finn gets caught in a web of deceit. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "5 books not to miss: The Try Guys, 'The Tenth Muse,' Mark Haddon's 'The Porpoise'," 16 June 2019 Across from the city’s mosque, one of Europe’s largest, work is underway for a new, gleaming skyscraper in the style of a medieval defense tower. Washington Post, "Chechnya’s leader uses World Cup to extend his outreach to Middle East," 27 May 2018 In a six-year-old, 3,100-square-foot home in Douglasville, a suburb of Atlanta, Amherst had installed four gleaming new GE appliances: stove, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Meet the A.I. Landlord That’s Building a Single-Family-Home Empire," 21 June 2019 Our tour guides -- lifelong friends who were living in Shanghai -- showed us everything from the city’s gleaming new skyscrapers to its centuries-old gardens and tea houses. Dallas News, "Shanghai surprise: New overtakes old as a photographer revisits China's second largest city," 19 June 2019 The vehicle was sleek, with dark tinted windows and gleaming silver rims. Alice Yin,, "Man, 25, killed after shooting leads to rollover crash in South Chicago," 17 June 2019 With Father’s Day nearly here, the O’Neals have this gleaming rainbow where thanks to Patrick’s business savvy and Ryan’s money, membership in the gym has bounced from 40 members to nearly 200 in a year’s time. Chris Erskine,, "In one corner, Ryan O’Neal. In another, his sportscaster son. The outcome may surprise you," 14 June 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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Statistics for gleam

Last Updated

27 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gleam

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

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More Definitions for gleam



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gleam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gleam

Spanish Central: Translation of gleam

Nglish: Translation of gleam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gleam for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gleam

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to complain fretfully

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