glis·​ten | \ˈgli-sᵊn \
glistened; glistening\ˈgli-​sᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of glisten 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to give off a sparkling or lustrous reflection of or as if of a moist or polished surface



Definition of glisten (Entry 2 of 2)

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Choose the Right Synonym for glisten


flash, gleam, glint, sparkle, glitter, glisten, glimmer, shimmer mean to send forth light. flash implies a sudden outburst of bright light. lightning flashed gleam suggests a steady light seen through an obscuring medium or against a dark background. lights gleamed in the valley glint implies a cold glancing light. glinting steel sparkle suggests innumerable moving points of bright light. the sparkling waters glitter connotes a brilliant sparkling or gleaming. glittering diamonds glisten applies to the soft sparkle from a wet or oily surface. glistening wet sidewalk glimmer suggests a faint or wavering gleam. a distant glimmering light shimmer means shining with a wavering light. a shimmering satin dress

Examples of glisten in a Sentence


Rain made the streets glisten. The streets glistened in the rain. Her eyes glistened with tears. a long beach of glistening sand
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Toward the beginning the camera shows the gardens, a sprinkler churning on the grass, the Mediterranean tiles on the roof glistening. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Tragic, Fascinating History of Santo Sospir," 13 Aug. 2018 All through the neighborhood, pavements and doorsteps glistened with brass shell casings. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Spy Who Came Home," 30 Apr. 2018 Look at Hugh Jackman coming out of the ocean, his body glistening with water and oh, this one might actually increase your temperature. Lauren Le Vine, Redbook, "13 Ways to Chill Out in a Hot Sec," 3 July 2013 At 320 pounds, Kwame is muscular, toned and glistening under the natural light that fills his enclosure. Hannah Rodriguez, The Seattle Times, "New ape in town: Kwame makes rare alpha-male debut at Woodland Park Zoo," 9 Nov. 2018 There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the water was glistening like a million tiny emeralds. Marie Claire, "Jessie Reyez Tells Us Why She Loves Mount Shasta, CA," 19 Oct. 2018 Her body glistened and little droplets of water trickled down from her arms and legs. Constance Grady, Vox, "13 amazing facts about Princess Margaret from Craig Brown’s new biography," 14 Aug. 2018 His abs have glistened and his hair has rippled in many bodice-ripping situations. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "The World’s Busiest Romance Cover Model on His Skin-Care Routine," 10 July 2018 Each leaf should be glistening with dressing but the bowl should be nearly dry at the bottom by the time you are done. Sarah Fritsche,, "Recipe: Tawla’s Fattoush," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The sugars will caramelize until the ribs are dark brown, and the salty-spicy-sweet glaze will make the whole thing glisten. Alyse Whitney, Bon Appetit, "You’d Never Know These BBQ Ribs Were Cooked in the Instant Pot," 20 June 2018 Pale pink scrims of raw Hamachi ($16) glisten with bright plum sauce and pop with the sharp tang of pickled onion. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "At BLVD, you'll find approachable fine dining in a glamorous setting," 6 Oct. 2017 Picture a large Atlantic codfish: Her scales glisten and her chin whiskers are long. Ben Guarino, Anchorage Daily News, "We’re fishing exactly the wrong fish, scientists warn," 10 May 2018 Built in the 1930s, the crisp 165-foot boat glistens in bright white and shiny wood. Beth Spotswood, San Francisco Chronicle, "A cruise back in time on the ‘Floating White House’," 25 Apr. 2018 The Stila and Onomie have formulas on the moister side, which covers your highlighter base with a healthy-looking glisten. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Call Me Crazy, But I Can't Stop Wearing Brown Blush," 23 Apr. 2018 Gold accents, such as a gold soap dish, glisten throughout the bathroom. Jason Wilson,, "What I learned about America's future from visiting Trump resorts around the world," 14 Mar. 2018 But, as its title implies, much of Man of the Woods also comes with the moonshine-and-mason-jar glisten of country, blues and folk. Nina Braca, Billboard, "Justin Timberlake's 'Man of the Woods': What Critics Are Saying," 2 Feb. 2018 Saffitz wanted the same glisten that Tartine's had under the light, upped the cardamom as a nod to Scandinavian tradition, and emulated the plethora of spots adding whole wheat into their flour mix. Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit, "We Want to Eat These Morning Buns for the Rest of Our Lives," 30 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'glisten.' 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 glisten


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


1840, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for glisten


Middle English glistnen, from Old English glisnian; akin to Old English glisian to glitter, geolu yellow — more at yellow


see glisten entry 1

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Statistics for glisten

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for glisten

The first known use of glisten was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for glisten



English Language Learners Definition of glisten

: to shine with light reflected off a wet surface


glis·​ten | \ˈgli-sᵊn \
glistened; glistening

Kids Definition of glisten

: to shine with a soft reflected light

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More from Merriam-Webster on glisten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with glisten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for glisten

Spanish Central: Translation of glisten

Nglish: Translation of glisten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of glisten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on glisten

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


a nest or breeding place

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