\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Normally hard to detect with the naked eye, this secret, colorful light show gleams as brightly as an ’80s disco within the beam of my lights. Smithsonian, "Amazing Photos Reveal the Hidden Light of Undersea Life," 25 July 2019 The bright orange slices on the cutting board, green fragrant fresh mint, and deep-purple blackberry purée gleam like a stoplight of drink ingredients. Fortune, "Bar Carts Are Back: How This Revival Is Different," 13 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This gleaming, modernist space of concrete and steel with soaring columns and room for bikes of all sizes and colors? Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "I can’t wrap my feeble American brain around this massive bike parking garage in the Netherlands," 20 Aug. 2019 The postcard-perfect restaurant itself, located at the intersection of 59 and East 2nd Avenue, is hard to miss with its gleaming chrome and retro-looking sign. Michelle Matthews |, al, "This Gulf Shores diner is a total ’50s throwback," 7 Aug. 2019 Successful Silicon Valley venture capital companies have turned Sand Hill Road, a Menlo Park boulevard lined with VC firms, into an icon of wealth, and sprinkled the region with palatial homes and gleaming Maseratis. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, "Morals and money: Is conscience-driven investing Silicon Valley’s VC future?," 22 July 2019 PJ Tucker gleamed in a bright orange two-piece from Acne Studios while Issa Rae twirled in a tie-dye pleated dress. Nandi Howard, Essence, "The Best Red-Carpet Looks At The 2019 NBA Awards," 25 June 2019 At 35 years old, Sara gleams in shimmery pink dress pants and a silky flowery top. Mayra Cuevas, CNN, "How sexual abuse survivors are finding strength and dignity through fashion," 6 June 2019 Blinded by glare or lured by artificial lights, disoriented birds fly into gleaming windows or smash into buildings, sometimes tumbling hundreds of feet to the pavement below. Babak Tafreshi, National Geographic, "Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price," 3 Apr. 2019 The pricey new buildings are all about gleaming windows and five-star service and indoor-outdoor living once associated with LA, not the Hub. Beth Teitell,, "In Boston’s ultra-luxury condo market, what does $63,000 buy? A marble sink top — for the bathroom," 3 May 2018 Whether grimy from housework or gleaming in a ball gown and glass slippers, Sierra Boggess’ Cinderella was enchanting. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Into the Woods’ and stars align in magical night at the Hollywood Bowl," 28 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gleam

Dictionary Entries near gleam








Statistics for gleam

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gleam

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!