verb (used with object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.

to catch or take a glimpse of.

verb (used without object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.

to look briefly; glance (usually followed by at).
Archaic. to come into view; appear faintly.

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

Synonyms for glimpse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for glimpsed

peek, spy, eye, sight, flash, spot, espy, descry, view

Examples from the Web for glimpsed

Contemporary Examples of glimpsed

Historical Examples of glimpsed

  • Her foot, glimpsed beneath her skirt, was slender and graceful, too.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • He glimpsed the boy in the kitchen doorway behind the sheriff.

    The Coyote

    James Roberts

  • Had she not glimpsed more, in those months at Highacres, than her mother dreamed?


    Jane Abbott

  • In truth he had only glimpsed a darting figure, but one he knew!

  • A second time I glimpsed the Slav behind his veneer of civilization.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for glimpsed



a brief or incomplete viewto catch a glimpse of the sea
a vague indicationhe had a glimpse of what the lecturer meant
archaic a glimmer of light


(tr) to catch sight of briefly or momentarily
(intr usually foll by at) mainly US to look (at) briefly or cursorily; glance (at)
(intr) archaic to shine faintly; glimmer
Derived Formsglimpser, noun

Word Origin for glimpse

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 glimpsed



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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper