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  1. open delight or pleasure; exultant joy; exultation.
  2. an unaccompanied part song for three or more voices, popular especially in the 18th century.
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Origin of glee1

before 900; Middle English; Old English glēo; cognate with Old Norse glȳ; akin to glow


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[glee]Scot. and North England
verb (used without object)
  1. to squint or look with one eye.
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  1. a squint.
  2. an imperfect eye, especially one with a cast.
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Origin of glee2

1250–1300; Middle English glien, gleen; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse gljā to shine
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for glee

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The old lady turned back into the house, and her face was alive with glee.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Right at him came the donkey, braying as though in glee at the trick he had played.

  • What a sudden sort of glee the night he discovered Bernard Shaw!

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • But suddenly the glee died—as suddenly as if a button had snapped off the current.

  • At the gate of Elm Cottage the dog came up to him, barking with glee.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for glee


  1. great merriment or delight, often caused by someone else's misfortune
  2. a type of song originating in 18th-century England, sung by three or more unaccompanied voicesCompare madrigal (def. 1)
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Word Origin

Old English gléo; related to Old Norse glӯ
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

Word Origin and History for glee


Old English gliu, gliw "entertainment, mirth, jest, play, sport," presumably from a Proto-Germanic *gleujam but absent in other Germanic languages except for the rare Old Norse gly "joy;" probably related to glad. A poetry word in Old English and Middle English, obsolete c.1500-c.1700, it somehow found its way back to currency late 18c. In Old English, an entertainer was a gleuman (female gleo-mægden). Glee club (1814) is from the secondary sense of "unaccompanied part-song" (1650s) as a form of musical entertainment.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper