Definition of glean
- glean a field
- can glean secrets from his hard drive
- gleaning old files for information
- The police used old-fashioned detective work to glean his whereabouts.
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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
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.
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.
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
: 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
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