[glos, glaws]


a superficial luster or shine; glaze: the gloss of satin.
a false or deceptively good appearance.
Also glosser. a cosmetic that adds sheen or luster, especially one for the lips.

verb (used with object)

to put a gloss upon.
to give a false or deceptively good appearance to: to gloss over flaws in the woodwork.

Nearby words

  1. glory hole,
  2. glory-of-the-snow,
  3. glory-of-the-sun,
  4. glory-pea,
  5. glos,
  6. gloss over,
  7. gloss paint,
  8. gloss.,
  9. glossa,
  10. glossae

Origin of gloss

1530–40; probably akin to Dutch gloos glowing, Middle High German glosen to glow, shine, Swedish dialect glysa to shine

1. See polish. 2. front, pretense.

Related formsgloss·less, adjective


[glos, glaws]


an explanation or translation, by means of a marginal or interlinear note, of a technical or unusual expression in a manuscript text.
a series of verbal interpretations of a text.
a glossary.
an artfully misleading interpretation.

verb (used with object)

to insert glosses on; annotate.
to place (a word) in a gloss.
to give a specious interpretation of; explain away (often followed by over or away): to gloss over a serious problem with a pat solution.

verb (used without object)

to make glosses.

Origin of gloss

1250–1300; (noun) Middle English glose (< Old French glose) < Medieval Latin glōsa, glōza < Greek glôssa word requiring explanation, literally, language, tongue; (v.) Middle English glosen < Medieval Latin glōssāre, derivative of glōsa; cf. gloze, reflecting the Old French pronunciation of verb

Related formsgloss·ing·ly, adverb


a combining form meaning “tongue, word, speech,” used in the formation of compound words: glossology.
Also glotto-; especially before a vowel, gloss-.

Origin of glosso-

< Greek (Ionic), combining form of glôssa

gloss. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gloss

British Dictionary definitions for gloss




  1. lustre or sheen, as of a smooth surface
  2. (as modifier)gloss paint
a superficially attractive appearance
a cosmetic preparation applied to the skin to give it a faint sheenlip gloss


to give a gloss to or obtain a gloss
See also gloss over

Derived Formsglosser, nounglossless, adjective

Word Origin for gloss

C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Icelandic glossi flame, Middle High German glosen to glow


a short or expanded explanation or interpretation of a word, expression, or foreign phrase in the margin or text of a manuscript, etc
an intentionally misleading explanation or interpretation
short for glossary

verb (tr)

to add glosses to
Derived Formsglosser, nounglossingly, adverb

Word Origin for gloss

C16: from Latin glōssa unusual word requiring explanatory note, from Ionic Greek


abbreviation for



before a vowel gloss-

combining form

indicating a tongue or languageglossolaryngeal

Word Origin for glosso-

from Greek glossa tongue

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 gloss
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for gloss




The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.