• synonyms


See more synonyms for glimpse on Thesaurus.com
  1. a very brief, passing look, sight, or view.
  2. a momentary or slight appearance.
  3. a vague idea; inkling.
  4. Archaic. a gleam, as of light.
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verb (used with object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.
  1. to catch or take a glimpse of.
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verb (used without object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.
  1. to look briefly; glance (usually followed by at).
  2. Archaic. to come into view; appear faintly.
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Origin of glimpse

1350–1400; Middle English glimsen (v.); cognate with Middle High German glimsen to glow; akin to glimmer
Related formsglimps·er, nounun·glimpsed, adjective
Can be confusedglance glimpse


See more synonyms for glimpse on Thesaurus.com
5. spot, spy, view, sight, espy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for glimpse

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I catch a glimpse of the grandness of your sister's meaning.

  • I'll burn my copy before I will let you have a glimpse of it.

  • Yet how imperfect a glimpse do we obtain of him, through the medium of this, or any of his letters!

    A Book of Autographs

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • I thought I had a glimpse of something behind that thick bush.

    The Gorgon's Head

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • At the first glimpse of the terrible head of Medusa, they whitened into marble!

    The Gorgon's Head

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for glimpse


  1. a brief or incomplete viewto catch a glimpse of the sea
  2. a vague indicationhe had a glimpse of what the lecturer meant
  3. archaic a glimmer of light
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  1. (tr) to catch sight of briefly or momentarily
  2. (intr usually foll by at) mainly US to look (at) briefly or cursorily; glance (at)
  3. (intr) archaic to shine faintly; glimmer
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Derived Formsglimpser, noun

Word Origin

C14: of Germanic origin; compare Middle High German glimsen to glimmer


Glimpse is sometimes wrongly used where glance is meant: he gave a quick glance (not glimpse) at his watch
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 glimpse


c.1400, "to glisten, be dazzling," probably from Old English *glimsian "shine faintly," from Proto-Germanic *glim- (see gleam). If so, the intrusive -p- would be there to ease pronunciation. Sense of "catch a quick view" first recorded mid-15c. Related: Glimpsed. The noun is recorded from mid-16c.; earlier in verbal noun glimpsing (mid-14c.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper