\ 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 gleanable (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 His materials vary but are inevitably frayed around the edges, bringing to mind the odds and ends gleaned from flea markets and junk drawers: old ticket stubs, bottle caps, blister packs, medical illustrations and comic books. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "‘Circumstantial Pleasures’ Review: The Lyrical Junkman Cometh," 28 May 2020 Patterns gleaned from call records would identify targets in email or location databases, and vice versa. Barton Gellman, Wired, "Inside the NSA’s Secret Tool for Mapping Your Social Network," 24 May 2020 But that doesn’t mean we humble PC gamers can’t glean information from Ampere’s AI-centric reveal. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Nvidia's bleeding-edge Ampere GPU architecture revealed: 5 things PC gamers need to know," 14 May 2020 Discussions then ensued among city officials and council members about possibly gleaning grant money from council’s budget or elsewhere in the 2020 city budget. Beth Mlady, cleveland, "Berea gives emergency relief grants to 40-plus city businesses impacted by pandemic," 8 May 2020 But a clue as to how the supply chain of the biggest name in smart home bikes is doing can be gleaned from a warning on its website: expect delivery delays of up to a month. Arianne Cohen,, "Home ‘Smart Bike’ Sales Are Booming, But It May Not Last," 10 May 2020 Not exactly, but regardless, there’s still valuable experience to be gleaned from DIY mishaps. B.s. Harris, Popular Mechanics, "Go Ahead, DIY Everything—Even If You Occasionally Fail," 7 May 2020 As such, any relevant data has to be gleaned from studies looking at other respiratory illnesses and how various masks in various settings play a role. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Face masks for COVID-19: A deep dive into the data," 3 Apr. 2020 Rohr-Allegrini said valuable information can be gleaned from what happened. Lauren Caruba,, "She was released from a hospital in San Antonio with coronavirus still in her system. Weeks later, she doesn’t appear to have infected anyone.," 20 Mar. 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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Glean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for glean


How to pronounce glean (audio)

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

Spanish Central: Translation of glean

Nglish: Translation of glean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glean for Arabic Speakers

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