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See also: gloss- and gloss.



Etymology 1[edit]

Probably from a North Germanic language, compare Icelandic glossi (spark, flame), glossa (to flame); or perhaps from dialectal Dutch gloos (a glow, flare), related to West Frisian gloeze (a glow), Middle Low German glȫsen (to smoulder, glow), German glosen (to smoulder); ultimately from Proto-Germanic *glus- (to glow, shine), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰel- (to flourish; be green or yellow). More at glow.


gloss (usually uncountable, plural glosses)

  1. A surface shine or luster.
    Synonyms: brilliance, gleam, luster, sheen, shine
  2. (figuratively) A superficially or deceptively attractive appearance.
    Synonyms: façade, front, veneer.
    • 1770, [Oliver] Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, a Poem, London: [] W. Griffin, [], OCLC 1227622017:
      To me more dear, congenial to my heart, / One native charm than all the gloss of art.
    • 2013 September 7, Daniel Taylor, “Danny Welbeck leads England's rout of Moldova but hit by Ukraine ban”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Hodgson may now have to bring in James Milner on the left and, on that basis, a certain amount of gloss was taken off a night on which Welbeck scored twice but barely celebrated either before leaving the pitch angrily complaining to the Slovakian referee.
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gloss (third-person singular simple present glosses, present participle glossing, simple past and past participle glossed)

  1. (transitive) To give a gloss or sheen to.
    Synonyms: polish, shine
  2. (transitive) To make (something) attractive by deception
    • 1722, Ambrose Philips, The Briton
      You have the art to gloss the foulest cause.
  3. (intransitive) To become shiny.
  4. (transitive, idiomatic) Used in a phrasal verb: gloss over (to cover up a mistake or crime, to treat something with less care than it deserves).

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English glosse, glose, from Late Latin glōssa (obsolete or foreign word requiring explanation), from Ancient Greek γλῶσσα (glôssa, language). Doublet of glossa.


gloss (plural glosses)

  1. (countable) A brief explanatory note or translation of a foreign, archaic, technical, difficult, complex, or uncommon expression, inserted after the original, in the margin of a document, or between lines of a text.
    Synonyms: explanation, note, marginalia
  2. (countable) A glossary; a collection of such notes.
    Synonyms: glossary, lexicon
  3. (countable, obsolete) An expression requiring such explanatory treatment.
  4. (countable) An extensive commentary on some text.
    Synonyms: commentary, discourse, discussion
  5. (countable, law, US) An interpretation by a court of specific point within a statute or case law.
    • 1979 American Bar Foundation. Annotated code of professional responsibility. page ix
      This volume is thus not a narrowly defined treatment of the Code of Professional Responsibility but rather represents a "common law" gloss on it.
    • 2007 Bruce R. Hopkins. The law of tax-exempt organizations. page 76
      Judicial Gloss on Test [section title]
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Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English glossen, glosen, from Old French gloser and Medieval Latin glossāre.


gloss (third-person singular simple present glosses, present participle glossing, simple past and past participle glossed)

  1. (transitive) To add a gloss to (a text).
    Synonyms: annotate, mark up
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gloss m (uncountable)

  1. lip gloss (cosmetic product)