\ 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.

Other Words from glean

gleanable \ ˈglē-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce glean (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 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 Listen closely to the Atherton High School grad's song lyrics and fans can glean a fair amount about his dietary habits. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, 24 Mar. 2022 Officials could glean more information from the device that was found on Wednesday. New York Times, 23 Mar. 2022 From casual hikers to nationally ranked professional or amateur athletes, anyone who loves outdoor sports can glean useful information from the bevy of sensors, safety features, and sophisticated software that come with every Garmin watch. Adrienne So, Wired, 27 Feb. 2022 What is easiest to glean from Johnson’s speaking to camera, though, is his endless delight at impressing his audience — not just the joy of winning but the pleasure of being seen winning. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 18 Apr. 2022 But Snyder needs to cash in some of that relationship equity and find ways to glean a more diverse offense from Mitchell. The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Apr. 2022 In an effort to glean definitive proof of the hoax, the hosts and a former Birmingham-school volunteer fly to Perth, Australia, to try to appeal to a key witness in the resignation-letters imbroglio. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2022 Refer back to your old entries to glean wisdom from the journey. Bill Keen, Forbes, 18 Mar. 2022 One need only peek at advertisements for Disney’s new Cheaper by the Dozen to glean that this is not a paint-by-the-numbers reboot of a classic franchise. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Glean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for glean


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on glean

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for glean

Nglish: Translation of glean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glean for Arabic Speakers


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