Definition of gleam in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Shine brightly, especially with reflected light.

    ‘light gleamed on the china cats’
    ‘her eyes gleamed with satisfaction’
    • ‘The young man held up his hands to show he was unarmed, but they continued towards him, the daggers gleaming in the flickering light.’
    • ‘The stars gleaming and moon shining lit my way to the secluded hill as the noise of everyone behind me faded.’
    • ‘The huntress silently pulled out a small dagger from her waist; its blade gleamed in the flickering light.’
    • ‘Her auburn hair, tinted gold, gleamed in the fluorescent light.’
    • ‘But this gem was like all of those gems combined somehow, and it gleamed in the morning light, catching the sun's rays and casting them back at the poet.’
    • ‘As the smoke glittered and gleamed, shining brilliantly, he had to shadow his eyes.’
    • ‘They were Indians, though I could see the light from the few lanterns gleaming off their white chests.’
    • ‘He creates a play of black and blue colours to set the backdrop and on this he places three boats, with bright lights gleaming from them.’
    • ‘A light flickered, then a red flare seemed to gleam brightly.’
    • ‘I woke up in a room filled with white and a bright light gleamed into my face.’
    • ‘As he looked at me, he flashed a seemingly perfect smile, his straight white teeth gleamed in the light.’
    • ‘And there, in the centre of the valley, gleaming so brightly it seems to possess an inner light of its own: The Crystal City.’
    • ‘The sapphire seemed to gleam with an inner light of its own as it reflected the hot sunlight falling upon it.’
    • ‘An off-colored rock, gleaming near white in the gloom, was good for a slight scoot.’
    • ‘The leader gave a bit of ground, then held firm and grinned back; large, white fangs and rain-damped fur gleaming in the dim light.’
    • ‘He made his way down the hallway, the lights gleaming even brighter, piercing through the void of space.’
    • ‘The soft grass they stood on was covered in sweet dew, the water gleaming and reflecting the light upon their faces.’
    • ‘I made the mistake of looking up at her, only to see that the smile on her face had grown, the twinkle in her eyes gleaming more brightly then ever.’
    • ‘A plump, rounded moon settled alongside the twinkling lights and gleamed observantly from its position in the sky.’
    • ‘As it walked closer to the fire they could see white hair gleaming in the light.’
    shine, glimmer, glint, catch the light, glitter, shimmer, glow, sparkle, twinkle, flicker, blink, wink, glisten, flash, flare, beam, fluoresce
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    1. 1.1 (of a smooth surface or object) reflect light because well polished.
      ‘Victor buffed the glass until it gleamed’
      • ‘A black, highly polished coach gleamed in the moonlight as its side door closed.’
      • ‘The scales had been polished carefully and gleamed from the light of the torches on the walls.’
      • ‘He lives in a posh, modern mid-rise, its lobby ablaze in polished surfaces that gleam like gold teeth.’
      • ‘I'd rather sweat and curse over ten pages of something new than dry and polish one page until it's gleaming and ready to be put away.’
      • ‘It's now as smooth and gleaming, and as ruddily glowing, as a freshly deforested Alpine slope at sunset.’
      • ‘They had brought down the old walnut writing desk from the loft and had polished it until it gleamed contentedly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The floors and banisters had been varnished and polished till they gleamed, the frames of paintings had received a thorough cleaning.’
      • ‘Their copies gleam shiny black and perfect, with uncracked spines, uncreased pages, and a redesigned cover.’
      • ‘His armour was of the finest steel; smooth surfaced and gleaming in the rays of the morning sun.’
      • ‘The footwear radiated the sense of money, all polished and gleaming.’
      • ‘Silver metallic surfaces gleamed at him from every angle, a tangled heap of wires residing around five power ports in a row.’
      • ‘I've spent the entire day washing and polishing windows till they gleamed.’
      • ‘In front of them, several giant exhibition stands in black polished color gleamed in the flashing lights of green, white, yellow, and blue.’
      • ‘There everything looked shiny and new, gleaming with the polished metallic look of a classic car show.’
      • ‘There was a large wooden desk, highly polished and gleaming like it had been soaked in oil, at the nether end of the room.’
      • ‘And so, after a full day of washing and dusting and cleaning and polishing until the house gleamed, it was my turn to be gossied up and smartened, ready for inspection.’
      • ‘Cleaned and polished until it gleamed in the harsh lights of the gym, it promised glory in an otherwise ugly world.’
      • ‘A future as a domestic goddess will surely be mine - but in the meantime, my surfaces are gleaming, thank you very much.’
    2. 1.2 (of an emotion or quality) appear or be expressed through the brightness of someone's eyes or expression.
      ‘a hint of mischief gleaming in her eyes’
      • ‘Fear gleamed from his malachite eyes and choking his every breath.’
      • ‘She caught his eye and he could almost swear that he saw a flash of mischief gleaming in hers.’
      • ‘Krystal looked at him once, with disappointment gleaming wetly in her eyes.’
      • ‘His face has a slightly rakish quality to it, his eyes gleaming with charm, and cunning.’
      • ‘I looked at him, though still on the floor, his eyes were gleaming strangely with pride and amazement.’
      • ‘A gleam of something shot through his eyes, and I shrunk back in fear.’
      • ‘She smiled and leaned towards her guest with more than polite curiosity gleaming in her blue eyes.’
      • ‘They moved to the front and sat attentively, hope gleaming in their eyes.’
      • ‘A smile widened his mouth and his beautiful eyes gleamed with happiness. ‘I love you too, my darling.’’
      • ‘It unnerved him when she looked at him with fear gleaming in her eyes.’
      • ‘The shade exactly matched her eyes as they gleamed with love and joy.’
      • ‘All I ever wanted in life was to make them proud, to see them smiling at me, pride gleaming in their eyes.’
      • ‘She follows the story with a burst of laughter, her eyes gleaming with pleasure.’
      • ‘There was a gleam of triumph in Abigail's eyes now, and she pressed on.’
      • ‘Yet something about her, perhaps the defined line of her chin, or the gleam of intelligence lurking in her dark eyes, told him that she knew.’
      • ‘She remained silent, her head held high and her eyes gleaming with anger.’
      • ‘The single gleam of wickedness in his eyes was enough to chill her blood.’
      • ‘Their eyes were gleaming with relief and an overall feeling of gratitude.’
      • ‘His eyes gleamed with mischief and Lily laughed despite her anger.’
      • ‘A twinkle of amusement and excitement gleamed in his olive colored eyes.’
      • ‘His yellow eyes gleamed with pride of his humble stature.’
      • ‘Leo smirked at me while his emerald eyes gleamed with mischief.’
      • ‘His eyes gleamed with an icy fury, adding to his grief.’
      • ‘Just there, in the hopeful gleam of your eye, and the gentle bow of your lip.’
      • ‘His eyes gleamed with mischief and he took her hand in his and kissed it like in those 16th century movies.’


  • 1usually in singular A faint or brief light, especially one reflected from something.

    ‘the gleam of a silver tray’
    • ‘As I unsheathed it, the blade reflected the light of the fireplace, producing a gleam on the edge.’
    • ‘The fire he had put upon that man had died, clouding his vision with a silver gleam.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She got faster and faster and soon the dagger was just a silver gleam of light.’
    • ‘Sighing, I drove off towards the park with only the faint gleam of the moonlight to guide me.’
    • ‘The airplane literally glistened in the sun - an unmistakable gleam reflected by the windshield challenged everyone to draw closer.’
    • ‘A dim line of light gleams from its surface across the building's ruined ceiling.’
    • ‘The sea looked divine, bathed in the gleam of moonlight.’
    • ‘I held it up above my head and saw the reflection of the moon on the shining metal, the gleam from the moon rays ricocheted off the silver and lit up my room.’
    • ‘It had a nice oak finish to it, and if the sun hit it at the perfect moment it would reflect off an irreplaceable gleam.’
    • ‘At first it shone bright and clear like Venus and Jupiter, then it glowed red like Mars, finally fading to a dull gleam, like the light of Saturn.’
    • ‘The spotlight brightens his yellow bandanna and reflects a gleam off his black sunglasses.’
    • ‘The sky in the east gleams like burnished brass gilding the wavelets on Phoenix Bay.’
    • ‘The next morning was refreshing; the light layer of fog and gleams of sunlight made it appealing for outdoor activities.’
    • ‘See how his precise hands are reflected in the gleam and curve of the espresso machine, bringing it to life?’
    • ‘And then I saw it, the gleam of gold.’
    • ‘As she did so a gleam of gold shown from around her neck.’
    • ‘For the first time, he also noticed the slight gleam of light which enveloped her.’
    • ‘It was so far away that I could barely make out the gleam of reflected light.’
    • ‘Reality enters his brain only in ‘feeble gleams of light.’’
    glimmer, glint, shimmer, glow, twinkle, sparkle, flicker, blink, spark, flash, flare
    shine, lustre, gloss, sheen
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    1. 1.1 A brief or faint instance of a quality or emotion, especially a desirable one.
      ‘the gleam of hope vanished’
      • ‘Although there was still a gleam of hope, most people considered it a theoretical rather than a practical one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That faint gleam of hope faded and she awaited the bullet and the echoing rattle.’
      glimmer, glimmering, flicker, ray, spark, trace, suggestion, hint, faint sign, scintilla
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    2. 1.2 A brightness in a person's eyes taken as a sign of a particular emotion.
      ‘she saw an unmistakable gleam of triumph in his eyes’
      • ‘Brooklyn smiled and I could see the mischievous gleam in her eye.’
      • ‘He also expressed his joy and pride at the gleam in people's eyes at looking at ‘what is our art collection.’’
      • ‘While his back was turned, I caught a gleam in Andy's eye.’
      • ‘"I've seen her, " he noticed the gleam of hope in the undertaker's eye.’
      • ‘She almost believed him until she saw the mischievous gleam in his brown eyes.’
      • ‘Also, ‘O Leader’ had to be spoken with powerful hand gestures, an expression of devotion and the bright gleam in the eyes.’
      • ‘A deadly gleam flashed in Sinclair's eyes and he almost grinned again.’
      • ‘When I turned around, Charlie was still standing at the counter with a mischievous gleam in his dark eyes.’
      • ‘A dangerous gleam had appeared in his eyes, while his voice more and more turned into a hiss.’
      • ‘Say it with a wicked gleam, and you're golden.’
      • ‘A gleam of excitement phased through her expressionless eyes.’
      • ‘She swore she could see a strange gleam appearing in his grey eyes.’
      • ‘An evil gleam came into his eyes and he grinned mischievously at Tara.’
      • ‘He looked back with a sneer and a matching gleam in his eye.’
      • ‘A wicked gleam appeared in his eyes and his hands instantly became scaly and hard.’
      • ‘Matching my mischievous expression, she simply nods, a gleam in her eyes.’
      • ‘His face was expressionless, but the gleam in his eyes told her he was angry.’
      • ‘Alex caught the predatory gleam in Greg's eyes as he offered them a drink.’
      glimmer, glimmering, flicker, ray, spark, trace, suggestion, hint, faint sign, scintilla
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Old English glǣm ‘brilliant light’, of Germanic origin.