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glis·​ten ˈgli-sᵊn How to pronounce glisten (audio)
glistened; glistening ˈgli-sᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce glisten (audio)

intransitive verb

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


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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

Verb Rain made the streets glisten. The streets glistened in the rain. Her eyes glistened with tears. a long beach of glistening sand
Recent Examples on the Web
Dark eggplant-color eye shadow glistened on her lids, working in harmony together with the red lip. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 14 Sep. 2023 As models traipsed the runway on a serendipitously rainy New York day, their faces glistened. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 10 Sep. 2023 Your room will glisten from the light inside the copper globular shade. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 8 Sep. 2023 As fate would have it, Reeves was caught walking off the ice in full gear, looking as handsome as ever, with a bit of sweat glistening on his forehead. Diane J. Cho, Peoplemag, 1 Sep. 2023 The sun’s out, your skin is glistening and the streets are calling your name. Felice León, Essence, 1 Sep. 2023 That is pleasant, relatively speaking, for summer in Dubai — a city of glistening skyscrapers and bustling ports in the United Arab Emirates, an immigrant hub where citizens are the minority. Vivian Nereim Andrea Dicenzo, New York Times, 28 Aug. 2023 Lacy pauses for a moment, leaning back in his chair to look up at the dozens of hotel windows hovering above him, glistening in the light like eyes, or camera lenses. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 8 Aug. 2023 Her glam was 100% classic Lopez, with a shimmery shade on the eye, a radiant peachy blush on her cheeks and a soft, glistening peachy lip gloss on her lips. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 24 Aug. 2023
Most lip oils tend to lose their glisten on me after about 20 minutes and either dry my lips out further or leave splotchy color behind. Lindsey Metrus, Peoplemag, 30 May 2023 Murray recommends shimmering shades to anyone looking to update their makeup bag, as they can be used for a subtle glisten during the day and intensified for a smokey eye at night. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 17 Mar. 2023 Deenihan applied both the Sol de Janeiro Glowmotions Glow Body Oil (in the Rio Sunset shade) and the Supergoop Play SPF 50 Spray to create a gorgeous glisten on the former Lizzie McGuire star. Claire Harmeyer,, 12 May 2022 For the glisten of recent tears, apply Stila Cosmetics Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Diamond Dust, and echo with a trace of Saie Starglow along the cheekbones and cupid’s bow. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 9 Dec. 2022 Many of Oman’s wadis, or desert valleys, dry up in the scorching summer months, but at Wadi Bani Khalid, wide pools of water glisten year-round. Michael Snyder, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2022 Richie is almost back at the water fountain, eyes a-glisten with memory. Danyel Smith, Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2022 Orb spider webs glisten in tall grassy spots on dewy mornings. Jim Gilbert, Star Tribune, 22 July 2021 But according to celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon-who works with actresses Zosia Mamet and Rachel Brosnahan-glittery, glisten-y formulas are the ones to stay away from. Nikki Brown,, 22 June 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'glisten.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


1840, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near glisten

Cite this Entry

“Glisten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


glistened; glistening
: to shine by reflection with a soft luster or sparkle
glisten noun

More from Merriam-Webster on glisten

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