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Alternative forms[edit]


From earlier glimse, from Middle English glimsen (to glisten, be dazzling, glance with the eyes), akin to Middle High German glimsen (to glow, smoulder). Compare also Middle Dutch glinsen, Middle Low German glinsen, glintzen, glinzen (to shine, shimmer), Middle High German glinsen (to shine, glimmer), Dutch glinsteren (to glitter, sparkle, shimmer, glint, glance), Dutch glimmen (to shine, gleam).


  • IPA(key): /ɡlɪmps/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪmps


glimpse (plural glimpses)

  1. A brief look, glance, or peek.
    I only got a glimpse of the car, so I can tell you the colour but not the registration number.
    • 1798, Samuel Rogers, An Epistle to a Friend:
      Here hid by shrub-wood, there by glimpses seen.
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter I, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      Selwyn, sitting up rumpled and cross-legged on the floor, after having boloed Drina to everybody's exquisite satisfaction, looked around at the sudden rustle of skirts to catch a glimpse of a vanishing figure—a glimmer of ruddy hair and the white curve of a youthful face, half-buried in a muff.
    • 2023 June 29, City AM, London, page 18, column 2:
      An opening sequence, featuring a de-aged Ford playing a younger Indy, is a bold and nostalgic gambit, offering a glimpse of what you've missed.
  2. (archaic) A sudden flash, a glimmer.
  3. (figurative) A faint idea; an inkling.



glimpse (third-person singular simple present glimpses, present participle glimpsing, simple past and past participle glimpsed)

  1. (transitive) To see or view briefly or incompletely.
    Synonyms: perceive, notice, detect, espy, spot, catch sight of
    I have only begun to glimpse the magnitude of the problem.
    • 1916, Florence Earle Coates, “Cendrillon”, in Poems, volume I:
      A hope that, glimpsed, must fade; / ⁠A form, illusion made, / That, vanishing, shall come no more again!
    • 1931, H. P. Lovecraft, chapter 8, in The Whisperer in Darkness:
      Those wild hills are surely the outpost of a frightful cosmic race—as I doubt all the less since reading that a new ninth planet has been glimpsed beyond Neptune, just as those influences had said it would be glimpsed.
  2. (intransitive) To appear by glimpses.
    • 1596, Michael Drayton, Mortimeriados:
      Deformed Shaddowes glimpsing in his sight