\ˈglēn \
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 \ 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

This human-canine partnership has been gleaned through bones: The earliest dog remains found in North America were buried nearly 10,000 years ago in what is now Illinois. Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, "America’s first dogs vanished after Europeans arrived, study finds," 7 July 2018 But Republicans are going to hammer Strzok over his text messages, and try to glean some sort of admission of wrongdoing. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok’s upcoming hearing, explained," 11 July 2018 Trying to glean a strong overview of a football team from its spring game can be a difficult endeavor. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Five things we learned from TCU's spring game: The O-Line? Oh, boy... | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 9 Apr. 2018 Aside from a handful of Texans players, plenty of folks in the NRG Stadium locker room probably could glean some motivation from their rankings. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Texans players' Madden 19 video game ratings," 12 July 2018 Washington’s impact on the Wolverines’ on-field performance won’t be gleaned until the fall. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football is rebuilding its recruiting pipeline in Ohio. Here's why.," 12 July 2018 Some of the values are gleaned from scientific literature, while others are measured by Arizona State researchers. Tom Avril,, "World Cup athletes burn a lot of energy. But some sports are even more demanding," 6 July 2018 But these ads and about 800 others like them have been gleaned from newspapers in Great Britain. Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, "Ads for runaway slaves in British newspapers show the cruelty of the ‘genteel’," 3 July 2018 The park gleans its name from a narrow, rocky ridge known as the Devil’s Backbone. Jay Jones,, "Pitch a tent, and play outdoors at these 5 Midwest campgrounds," 13 June 2018

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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Statistics for glean

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for glean

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

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More Definitions for glean



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 \
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

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