Definition of gleam in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡliːm/


[no object]
1Shine brightly, especially with reflected light: light gleamed on the china cats her eyes gleamed with satisfaction
More example sentences
  • The stars gleaming and moon shining lit my way to the secluded hill as the noise of everyone behind me faded.
  • A light flickered, then a red flare seemed to gleam brightly.
  • As he looked at me, he flashed a seemingly perfect smile, his straight white teeth gleamed in the light.
shine, glimmer, glint, catch the light, glitter, shimmer, glow, sparkle, twinkle, flicker, blink, wink, glisten, flash, flare, beam, fluoresce;
reflect light
literary glister
rare coruscate, scintillate, fulgurate, effulge, luminesce, incandesce, phosphoresce
1.1(Of a smooth surface or object) reflect light because well polished: Victor buffed the glass until it gleamed (as adjective gleaming) gleaming black limousines
More example sentences
  • Silver metallic surfaces gleamed at him from every angle, a tangled heap of wires residing around five power ports in a row.
  • The rich, dark, walnut surface gleamed like glass, the china and silver twinkling in the light cast from two huge candelabra.
  • Smooth polished oak flooring gleamed in the afternoon light flooding in from the open windows.
1.2(Of an emotion or quality) be expressed through the brightness of a person’s eyes: affection gleamed in her large green eyes
More example sentences
  • It unnerved him when she looked at him with fear gleaming in her eyes.
  • Krystal looked at him once, with disappointment gleaming wetly in her eyes.
  • All I ever wanted in life was to make them proud, to see them smiling at me, pride gleaming in their eyes.


1A faint or brief light, especially one reflected from something: the gleam of a silver tray
More example sentences
  • See how his precise hands are reflected in the gleam and curve of the espresso machine, bringing it to life?
  • Reality enters his brain only in ‘feeble gleams of light.’
  • Hard to miss, especially by night divers, whose lights catch the gleam from its huge opalescent eyes, is the ratfish, which cruises by on wing-like pectoral fins.
glimmer, glint, shimmer, glow, twinkle, sparkle, flicker, blink, spark, flash, flare;
beam, ray, shaft, finger, pencil
shine, lustre, gloss, sheen;
glint, glitter, glimmer, sparkle, brightness, brilliance, radiance, glow, luminescence, luminosity, phosphorescence, incandescence
literary glister
rare lambency, scintillation, effulgence, refulgence, fulguration, coruscation
1.1A brief or faint instance of a quality or emotion: the gleam of hope vanished
More example sentences
  • That faint gleam of hope faded and she awaited the bullet and the echoing rattle.
  • There is a gleam of intelligence, a gleam of humor, and there's always amusement, but his delivery is so poor, people only laugh because of his power.
  • It polishes another familiar genre, the coming-of-age movie, to a fine gleam of wit.
1.2An expression of an emotion or quality in a person’s eyes: she saw a gleam of triumph in his eyes
More example sentences
  • A gleam of excitement phased through her expressionless eyes.
  • His face was expressionless, but the gleam in his eyes told her he was angry.
  • He looked back with a sneer and a matching gleam in his eye.


a gleam in someone's eye

see eye.



Example sentences
  • There are immaculately turned out sheep, goats with coats that might have been tailored in Savile Row, ponies groomed gleamingly to perfection.
  • They were - all at once - caring, compassionate, interested in single mothers and the homeless and gleamingly modern.
  • As smooth as silk they glided over their set, gleamingly polished, if slightly bland, and as always, chilled to a shiver.


Pronunciation: /ˈɡliːmi/
adjective ( archaic)
Example sentences
  • We walk from one to the next on goat trails beneath a gleamy Aegean sky.
  • And when the rain finished my car looked as clean and gleamy as anyone else's.
  • Aurelia noted the walls, coated with a gleamy stuff like the bricks at her school.


Old English glǣm 'brilliant light', of Germanic origin.

Words that rhyme with gleam

abeam, agleam, beam, blaspheme, bream, deem, deme, downstream, dream, esteem, extreme, hakim, kilim, meme, midstream, Nîmes, régime, scheme, scream, seam, seem, steam, stream, supreme, team, teem, theme, upstream

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: gleam

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