\ 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

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 And, once again, all three gel-to-powder shades (Iridescent Pink 003, Fine Gold 003, and Bronze Nectar 003) can be worn separately, or layered for a runway-ready gleam., "Pat McGrath Shares Her Runway Highlighting Technique," 13 June 2018 As torchbearers for the counterculture, Vouga, 30, and his partner, Lauren Tackberry, 27, have created a home in Berkeley that is refreshingly devoid of the superficial gleam that disposable modernism often emits. Leilani Marie Labong, San Francisco Chronicle, "Peace, love and a ’70s vibe rock a Berkeley home," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The acupuncture has worked its magic and my skin gleams like a conch shell, but my true moment of genuine wellness arrives not in Eden’s annex but on my last morning at sea, before the sun comes up. Sloane Crosley, Vogue, "All Aboard the Good Ship Self-Care," 12 Mar. 2019 There were bubble dresses and bows galore, sweeping trains and gleaming ostrich-feathered embroideries. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "The Top 10 Shows of London Fashion Week Fall 2019," 20 Feb. 2019 The hill’s landmark is the gleaming Notre-Dame Basilica, built in the late 1800s. Rick Steves' Europe, The Seattle Times, "Loving Lyon: France’s culinary capital is off the tourist path," 20 Feb. 2019 On an icy evening in late December, Italian chef Massimo Bottura is in his happy place, in a gleaming kitchen feeding family and friends. Jay Cheshes, WSJ, "Chef Massimo Bottura’s New Italian Inn," 5 Feb. 2019 The all-European semifinals even prompted NATO to issue a celebratory tweet from its gleaming new headquarters in Brussels, hailing a tournament that only a NATO member could now win. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The World Cup is a victory for the immigrant dream," 12 July 2018 The kitchen boasts beautiful subway tile, a marble island, and gleaming appliances. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "This Mom Made a 'Fixer Upper' Dollhouse, and It's a Flippin' Masterpiece," 17 Mar. 2018 Just hours after wrapping her stunning Fall 2019 runway show, the humble designer was gleaming while speaking of her first-ever endeavor of this nature. Catherine Scott, Vogue, "Gabriela Hearst Scatters Her Collection at Bergdorf Goodman and Celebrates With a Cocktail Party," 13 Feb. 2019 During the Cold War, the CIA gleamed much of its information about new Soviet weapon systems simply by showing up at parades. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "How the CIA Watched Soviet Parades for New Military Tech," 19 Dec. 2018

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

21 Mar 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

What made you want to look up gleam? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a secret plot to overthrow a government

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