verb \ ˈglēn \
Updated on: 10 Mar 2018

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
1 a : to pick up after a reaper
b : to strip of the leavings of reapers
  • glean a field
2 a : 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.


play \ˈglē-nə-bəl\ adjective



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Examples of glean in a Sentence

  1. She gleaned her data from various studies.

  2. He has a collection of antique tools gleaned from flea markets and garage sales.

  3. They spent days gleaning the files for information.

  4. They spent hours gleaning in the wheat fields.

  5. gleaning stray ears of corn

Recent Examples of glean from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of glean

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

GLEAN Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of glean for English Language Learners

  • : 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

GLEAN Defined for Kids


verb \ ˈglēn \

Definition of glean for Students

gleaned; gleaning
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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