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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:
      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]

Glosas Emilianenses, 11th c.

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
    • 1684, Samuel Butler, Hudibras:
      All this, without a gloss or comment, / He would unriddle in a moment.
    • 2021, Mary Wellesley, The Gilded Page: The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts, page 9:
      He was a prolific annotator - writing around fifty thousand glosses in as many as twenty manuscripts.
  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 a 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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Further reading[edit]




gloss m (uncountable)

  1. lip gloss (cosmetic product)