\ 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

The Nix opened in 1930, long before the South Texas Medical Center was even a gleam in some doctor’s eyes. Richard A. Marini,, "For decades, Nix was San Antonio’s elite ’09 hospital," 9 Aug. 2019 Yet amid the horror, occasional salutary gleams of light may be glimpsed. Patrick Mcgrath, New York Times, "A Dumping Ground for the Poor, the Criminal and the Mad," 28 June 2018 Elvin Jones, God’s own drummer, seems to float behind the gleam of John Coltrane’s tenor: part ghost, part fever dream. Mark Feeney,, "Photography’s biggest stars are out in MFA’s ‘Viewpoints’ show," 15 Aug. 2019 Halsey is celebrating someone who has made her soul gleam. Claudia Harmata,, "Halsey Shares Sweet Birthday Tribute to 'Darling' Boyfriend Yungblud: 'I Love You'," 6 Aug. 2019 The gleam on the tip of a Glossier fan’s nose could be Haloscope, or simply a trick of the light. Sarah Todd, Quartzy, "Why getting dewy skin became a global obsession," 24 July 2019 The visuals have a glossy sheen, but that gleam is from a foul-smelling stress sweat rather than a healthy glow. Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Join ‘Chain of Death’s’ ridiculous suicide squad at your own peril," 18 July 2019 Top it off with Girl Gloss Signature High Shine Lip Gloss for a reflective gleam, and use the Forever Flawless Signature Complexion Brush to apply one or all of the shades in the Dream Glow Signature Highlighter Palette. Marci Robin, Allure, "Pür Is Launching a Huge Barbie Makeup Collection — and Yes, Everything Is Pink," 26 July 2019 According to the team’s observations, spider super black reflects less than 0.5 percent of incoming light, creating a gleam-free, featureless void in color. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "How peacock spiders use optical illusions to woo females," 22 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

A year ago, pools of cool water gleamed under the sun and frogs basked on their banks. Joe Dworetzky, Los Angeles Times, "The threatened frogs of the Santa Monica Mountains always had it hard. The Woolsey fire made things much worse," 25 July 2019 The simpler dishes feel like home cooking: a plate of chicken and rice; pho bo dac biet, beef noodle soup with brisket, bone-in short rib, and chewy segments of aorta gleaming white from the clear broth. Globe Staff,, "Ban Tôi chef-owner Chieu Nguyen used to run a nail salon. Now he’s doing what he loves.," 18 July 2019 Garish signs gleamed from every building, one over the other in tapestries of contrasting calligraphy. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Two unlikely cops are paired up to solve murders in a war-torn Tokyo in Ninth Step Station," 8 Dec. 2018 Fans come dressed in Chanel finery, gleaming guayaberas, or Stetsons color-coordinated with cinto piteados — leather belts stitched with arabesque designs. Los Angeles Times, "Pepe Aguilar’s ‘Rodeo Without Borders’ evokes old Mexico, with touches of L.A.," 15 Sep. 2019 Flippy fringed skirts, leather trousers, and over-the-knee or western boots came in colorful, gleaming metallic leathers. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "NYFW: Jeremy Scott's Escapist “Sci-Fi Band” Walks for a Starry Crowd," 7 Sep. 2019 But viewed through binoculars on Tuesday, the solitary fruit gleamed red and healthy. Amelia Nierenberg, New York Times, "A Tomato Grows in the East River," 4 Sep. 2019 Contemporary touches come in with granite counters, white subway tiling and gleaming stainless steel appliances. Roxanne Washington,, "Cool Spaces: Cozy ‘castle’ is among eight stops on Heights Heritage Home & Garden Tour Sept. 15," 30 Aug. 2019 Lies about a gleaming tower in Moscow and lies about talks with the Kremlin. NBC News, "Full transcript: Mueller testimony before House Judiciary, Intelligence committees," 25 July 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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Dictionary Entries near gleam








Statistics for gleam

Last Updated

17 Oct 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).


to fake an opponent out of position

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