Gleam vs glean

Photo of author


Gleam means to shine brightly, especially from reflected light. Gleam may also describe something polished to such a high luster that it shines. Gleam may also refer to a slight indication of something. Gleam may be used as a noun or as an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Related words are gleams, gleamed, gleaming, gleamingly, gleamy. The word gleam is derived from the Old English word glæm which means bright light, brilliance, radiance.

Glean means to gather small bits of something together. Originally, glean was used to describe harvesting the last small bits of a crop, such as a grain crop. That meaning of the word glean has expanded to mean gathering anything bit by bit. Glean comes from the Latin word glennare which means make a collection.


The team has had no trouble selling out their building though the gleam of the silver chalice in Sidney Crosby’s hands would no doubt make the team more appealing to a potential buyer. (Forbes Magazine)

Hard-won independence offered a gleam of hope in the 20th century, but the promise of secular nationalism ultimately disappointed, with young nations descending into dictatorship. (The Atlantic Magazine)

Electric utilities, confronted with very little growth in demand for their product nationally, look at the legalization of marijuana with a gleam in their eye, as large-scale farms represent a significant new load on the grid and perhaps billions of dollars or more of annual revenues for grow lights, pumps and climate control systems. (The Houston Chronicle)

“By utilizing you-pick customers to glean the field, the farmer doesn’t have to pay someone to harvest.” (The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Companies that join at those levels have a big say in steering the agenda of the institute through key governance committees, pay the most for membership and glean the most benefits in terms of accessing intellectual property the organization produces. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

You’d be surprised how much information people can glean from your social media accounts (The Derbyshire Times)