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What is the link between glitter, glint, gleam, glow, glimmer, glisten, and glare?

asked 2018-12-16 19:23:05 -0500

Lazarus gravatar image

I've read about phonesthemes, but even that doesn't seem to answer much. Does anyone here have any theories as to why all these words start with gl- but seem to be otherwise etymologically distinct?

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answered 2019-01-29 04:37:02 -0500

Gerard Cheshire gravatar image

All of these words originate from Old English, where the prefix 'gl-' appears to have been a form of visual-onomatopoeia, in allusion to the fleeting reflection of light seen by the eye. The words 'glim' and 'glimpse' are part of the same etymological group and relate to illuminating and viewing things.

The word 'glim' had many and various meanings in Old English, but has now fallen from use, largely because the lexicon has grown and diversified. Thus, we now have a group of distinct but related words.

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Asked: 2018-12-16 19:23:05 -0500

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Last updated: Jan 29 '19