\ 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 Probably right call to start Dwayne Haskins down the homestretch — though given supporting cast's state, how much can be gleaned from his performance? 32. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL power rankings: With Saints, 49ers going down, who takes over No. 1 spot?," 12 Nov. 2019 Not many positives can be gleaned from the sort of 45-3 thumping the Buffs endured last week at Oregon, but the play of Abrams and Trujillo might count as at least a slight silver lining. Pat Rooney, The Denver Post, "As teammates get younger in CU Buffs secondary, Delrick Abrams embraces leadership role," 17 Oct. 2019 After the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board programmed the conditions faced by the United 232 crew into a flight simulator to see if anything could be gleaned that could be incorporated into pilot training., "“Most people know Chesley Sullenberger,” said Spencer Bailey, a Flight 232 survivor, referring to the pilot who successfully landed a US Airways jet on the Hudson River in 2009, “but the feat Captain Haynes pulled off 30 years ago was truly a miracle, too.”," 30 Sep. 2019 After the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board programmed the conditions faced by the United 232 crew into a flight simulator to see if anything could be gleaned that could be incorporated into pilot training. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Alfred Haynes, Pilot Who Saved Scores in Crash Landing, Dies at 87," 24 Sep. 2019 There's a lot that can be gleaned about a brand's ethos from Instagram. Michelle Li, Teen Vogue, "Five Cool Things I Found On Instagram This Week," 14 June 2019 Perhaps most controversial is the question of how much information can be gleaned from data alone—a pressing question in the age of stupendously large (and growing) piles of it. Dan Falk, WIRED, "AI Algorithms Are Now Shockingly Good at Doing Science," 17 Mar. 2019 There’s a lot that can be gleaned from a few minutes of hands-on time. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "First look at Google’s Pixel 3 and 3 XL," 9 Oct. 2018 While only so much can really be gleaned from the opening chapter of an episodic series like this, almost every element in this first episode is incredibly promising. Julie Muncy, Ars Technica, "Life Is Strange 2, episode 1 review: New setting, same heart," 28 Sep. 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

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for glean

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

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of glean

Nglish: Translation of glean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glean for Arabic Speakers

Comments on glean

What made you want to look up glean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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