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[glis-uh n] /ˈglɪs ən/
verb (used without object)
to reflect a sparkling light or a faint intermittent glow; shine lustrously.
a glistening; sparkle.
Origin of glisten
before 1000; Middle English glis(t)nen (v.), Old English glisnian, derivative of glisian to glitter; see -en1
Related forms
glisteningly, adverb
unglistening, adjective
1. glimmer, gleam, glitter. Glisten, shimmer, sparkle refer to different ways in which light is reflected from surfaces. Glisten refers to a lustrous light, as from something sleek or wet, or it may refer to myriads of tiny gleams reflected from small surfaces: Wet fur glistens. Snow glistens in the sunlight. Shimmer refers to the changing play of light on a (generally moving) surface, as of water or silk: Moonbeams shimmer on water. Silk shimmers in a high light. To sparkle is to give off sparks or small ignited particles, or to send forth small but brilliant gleams, sometimes by reflection: A diamond sparkles with numerous points of light. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for glisten
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • How fine the breast-plates and helmets of those Cuirassiers glisten in the sun!

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • The dew in the meadows and the pearls on the wings of butterflies began to glisten.

    The Great Hunger Johan Bojer
  • And see the glisten of that glacier in the haze, like a star in the veil of a bride!

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and drip with steam.

    Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
  • In asking, he removed his hat, glanced at its glisten, put it on again.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • They shall shine like fire, and glisten like the most beautiful scarlet.

    The Indian Fairy Book Cornelius Mathews
  • I exclaimed, and tears, such as glisten in the eyes of childhood, gathered in mine.

    Ernest Linwood Caroline Lee Hentz
British Dictionary definitions for glisten


verb (intransitive)
(of a wet or glossy surface) to gleam by reflecting light: wet leaves glisten in the sunlight
(of light) to reflect with brightness: the sunlight glistens on wet leaves
(rare) a gleam or gloss
Derived Forms
glisteningly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English glisnian; related to glisian to glitter, Middle High German glistern
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for glisten

Old English glisnian "to glisten, gleam," from Proto-Germanic *glis- (cf. Old Frisian glisa "to shine," Middle High German glistern "to sparkle," Old Danish glisse "to shine"), from PIE *ghleis-, from root *ghel- "to shine, glitter, glow, be warm" (see glass). Related: Glistened; glistening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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