\ 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 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 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 Researchers and hackers alike glean a lot through reverse engineering, the process of determining how something is built by examining the finished product. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Apple Offers Its Closest Look Yet at iOS and MacOS Security," 18 Feb. 2021 Human challenge studies may also be used to glean information about a pathogen, such as its ability to cause disease, factors that put people at risk of illness and clues about the way the body generates immunity in response to an infection. Jason Gale, Fortune, "The U.K. plans to infect young volunteers with COVID-19 to learn more about the virus," 18 Feb. 2021 Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a sensing method that enables devices to glean what an object is based on its shape. Washington Post, "Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars," 16 Jan. 2021 This was the kind of learning experience Popovich hoped his young players would glean from Tuesday’s class session. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Antonio Spurs’ youth tested in loss to Houston Rockets," 15 Dec. 2020 In order to best age wine and experiment with the process, buy directly from vineyards and explain your intent so as to glean some specific insight from those who know best. Anthony Marcusa,, "How long does wine last unopened?," 22 Jan. 2021 Those tuning in to glean some of the master’s magic may be disappointed, however. New York Times, "Can Jeff Koons Teach Me to Paint?," 27 Dec. 2020 All told, the conference offered a forum for all: a space for industry professionals to reflect and to glean insight from one another, in a year that has prompted far more questions than answers. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "At Points of View, Condé Nast Traveler’s Annual Travel Summit, the Only Direction Is Forward," 4 Dec. 2020 But this time on the sidelines, used wisely, can be yet another lesson young athletes glean about dealing with life's setbacks. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Minnesota Hockey's response to COVID 'pause' deserves praise," 19 Nov. 2020

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

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Glean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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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 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

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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