1. A brief beam or flash of light: saw gleams of daylight through the cracks.
2. A steady but subdued shining; a glow: the gleam of burnished gold.
3. A brief or dim indication; a trace: a gleam of intelligence.
intr.v. gleamed, gleam·ing, gleams
1. To emit a gleam; flash or glow: "Their tile roofs gleamed in the moon's pallid radiance" (Laura Joh Rowland). See Synonyms at flash.
2. To be reflected as a gleam: The sun gleamed on the water.
3. To be manifested or indicated briefly or faintly.
[Middle English glem, from Old English glǣm; see ghel-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.