gleaned; gleaning; gleans

intransitive verb

: to gather grain or other produce left by reapers
: to gather information or material bit by bit

transitive verb

: to pick up after a reaper
: to strip of the leavings of reapers
glean a field
: to gather (something, such as information) bit by bit
can glean secrets from his hard drive
: to pick over in search of relevant material
gleaning old files for information
: find out
The police used old-fashioned detective work to glean his whereabouts.
gleanable adjective
gleaner noun

Did you know?

The Grainy History of Glean

Glean comes from Middle English glenen, which traces to Anglo-French glener, meaning "to glean." The French borrowed their word from Late Latin glennare, which also means "to glean" and is itself of Celtic origin. Both the grain-gathering sense and the collecting-bit-by-bit senses of English's glean date back at least to the 14th century. Over the years, and especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, glean has also come to be used frequently with the meaning "to find out, learn, ascertain." This sense has been criticized by folks who think glean should always imply the drudgery involved in the literal grain-gathering sense, but it is well established and perfectly valid.

Examples of glean in a Sentence

She gleaned her data from various studies. He has a collection of antique tools gleaned from flea markets and garage sales. They spent days gleaning the files for information. They spent hours gleaning in the wheat fields. gleaning stray ears of corn
Recent Examples on the Web Some can be gleaned from the museum exhibit, his films or books. Valli Herman, Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2023 Israel may be able to glean new intelligence during the pause, and so make plans for its next phase of the war. Alan Yuhas, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2023 And still more have gleaned an allegory for Rio de Janeiro itself, a city carved from a lush forest now grappling with its own loss of wildness. Terrence McCoy, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 By measuring seismic waves traveling through Earth, researchers can glean insights into what lies below. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 Gabriel also considered his personal experience gleaned from years of raking for hire as a youth. Gabriel Morgan, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Oct. 2023 Now, a fresh crop of Chinese companies is harnessing the know-how gleaned from those ventures to take markets from foreign automakers. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, 14 Nov. 2023 That subject, to be addressed by Kramer, will draw on lessons gleaned from the vast new AMPAS museum project, which opened its doors in Los Angeles in 2021. Will Tizard, Variety, 6 Nov. 2023 In 1999, when Ted Keller, the Village Voice’s design director, asked me to illustrate Lynn Yaeger’s Street Style column, my first assignment was to draw fashion observations gleaned from watching passersby around the Cube. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'glean.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English glenen, from Anglo-French glener, from Late Latin glennare, of Celtic origin; akin to Old Irish doglenn he selects

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of glean was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near glean

Cite this Entry

“Glean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to gather from a field or vineyard what has been left (as by reapers)
: to gather little by little
glean knowledge from books
gleaner noun

More from Merriam-Webster on glean

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