\ ˈglēn How to pronounce glean (audio) \
gleaned; gleaning; gleans

Definition of glean

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

1a : to pick up after a reaper
b : to strip of the leavings of reapers glean a field
2a : to gather (something, such as information) bit by bit can glean secrets from his hard drive
b : to pick over in search of relevant material gleaning old files for information
3 : find out The police used old-fashioned detective work to glean his whereabouts.

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Other Words from glean

gleanable \ ˈglē-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce gleanable (audio) \ adjective
gleaner noun

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 our 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
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Recent Examples on the Web The data, reported from vehicles, was precise, and the researchers set about building software tools to glean patterns from what amounted to torturously long and information-laden movies. Michael Laris, Washington Post, "This company is trying to teach computers to forecast traffic like the weather," 27 Dec. 2019 This may be because Twitter is a popular space for journalists and political actors to glean information, which provides an opportunity to amplify disinformation. Josephine Lukito, Quartz, "How to avoid another Russian-troll misinformation nightmare in 2020," 13 Dec. 2019 Story details are still somewhat under wraps, but there’s a lot to glean from the footage. Nick Romano,, "Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson return for Fast & Furious videogame," 13 Dec. 2019 Kingsbury did not want to glean too much from this particular drive, as the team has certainly sustained long drives throughout the season. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Cardinals' long touchdown drive flashes offense's design to involve diverse cast," 9 Dec. 2019 Launched to the space station in 2011, the AMS was built to study high-energy cosmic rays to glean clues about what happened to the antimatter presumably created during the big bang in equal measure with normal matter. William Harwood, CBS News, "Spacewalkers replace coolant pumps on $2 billion cosmic ray detector," 2 Dec. 2019 That can be hard to glean by asking co-workers one by one. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz at Work, "Here is how much less you should work in December in the US," 2 Dec. 2019 And now, front office members, perhaps too eager to glean one of the last remaining edges in the game. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Will Astros sign-stealing revelations lead MLB into a bottomless pit of scandals?," 18 Nov. 2019 In Bad Blood, Carreyrou, a veteran reporter with the Wall Street Journal, delivers a complete narrative, one that would be impossible to glean from reading incremental reporting alone. Time Staff, Time, "The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s," 11 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'glean.' 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 glean

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

History and Etymology for glean

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

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Time Traveler for glean

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Glean.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for glean


How to pronounce glean (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of glean

: to gather or collect (something) in a gradual way
: to search (something) carefully
: to gather grain or other material that is left after the main crop has been gathered


\ ˈglēn How to pronounce glean (audio) \
gleaned; gleaning

Kids Definition of glean

1 : to gather from a field what is left by the harvesters
2 : to gather (as information) little by little with patient effort

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More from Merriam-Webster on glean

Spanish Central: Translation of glean

Nglish: Translation of glean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glean for Arabic Speakers

Comments on glean

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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