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From Middle English glim, glimme (radiance; shining brightness), of uncertain further origin. Perhaps from Old English gleomu (splendor) and/or Old Norse *glim, *glima, both apparently from Proto-Germanic *glimō, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰley- (to gleam, shimmer, glow). Compare Norwegian glim, dialectal Old Swedish glim, glimma.



glim (countable and uncountable, plural glims)

  1. (obsolete) brightness; splendour
  2. (archaic, slang) A light; a candle; a lantern; a fire.
    • 1837, Dickens, Charles, chapter 16, in Oliver Twist:
      'Let's have a glim,' said Sikes, 'or we shall go breaking our necks, or treading on the dog. Look after your legs if you do!'
    • 1851, Melville, Herman, chapter 3, in Moby-Dick:
      "Come along here, I'll give ye a glim in a jiffy;" and so saying he lighted a candle and held it towards me, offering to lead the way.
    • 1883, Stevenson, Robert Louis, chapter 5, in Treasure Island:
      'Sure enough, they left their glim here,' said the fellow from the window.
  3. (archaic, slang) An eye.
  4. (archaic, slang) A pair of glasses or spectacles.
  5. (archaic, slang) A look; a glimpse.
  6. (archaic, slang) Gonorrhea
  7. (archaic, slang) Fake documents claiming the loss of property by fire (for use in begging).
    • 1851, Mayhew, Henry, “Of the 'Screevers,' or Writers of Begging-Letters and Petitions”, in London Labour and the London Poor[1], volume 1, page 312:
      Tayler Tom lent me a shillin wish I send inklosed and yu must porn sumthing for anuther shilling and get Joe the Loryer to rite a fake for William not a glim (loss by fire) but a brakd say as e ad a hors fell downe with the mad staggurs an broke all is plates and dishes an we are starvin you can sa that the children is got the mesuls []

Derived terms[edit]


glim (third-person singular simple present glims, present participle glimming, simple past and past participle glimmed)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To brand on the hand.
    • 1714, Memoirs of the Right Villainous John Hall:
      Profligate women were glimm'd for that villany.
  2. (dated, slang) To illuminate.
  3. (dated, slang) To see; to observe.
    • 1918, West, Tommy, The Long, Long Trail in the World of Sport:
      About 9 o'clock he showed up and he knew me the moment he glimmed me.
    • 1943 December 11, “Pipes for Pitchmen”, in Billboard[2], page 55:
      Heibers further states he glimmed the following on Maxwell Street on a Sunday morning []


  • Farmer, John Stephen (1893) Slang and Its Analogues[3], volume 3, pages 153–155



  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪm



  1. first-person singular present indicative of glimmen
  2. imperative of glimmen