Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glisten or Gleam?

The question the other day was, what is the difference between glisten and gleam? According to Wordnik, here's what the dictionary says, but don't expect to understand the difference from it:

Glisten: To shine by reflection with a sparkling luster OR be shiny, as if wet.
Gleam: A steady but subdued shining; a glow OR shine brightly, like a star or a light

And just to make it more confusing:
Glisten: To sparkle or shine; especially, to shine with a mild, subdued, and fitful luster; to emit a soft, scintillating light; to gleam; as, the glistening stars.

My own personal take is that glisten means wet. Like Scarlet O'Hara, working an angle with Ashley. Like a mom's eyes at a wedding. Or a 16 year old girl telling her daddy that she got her first ticket. Or my eyes, when I come across a big stack of 30s Vogue magazines. Or my eyes, when I think of how badly I'd like to come across that stack of magazines.........

Gleam, to me, means a wild look in the eyes. Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Or a devious, scheming woman. Like Scarlet O'Hara thinking about those drapes. Or carrots.

So let's clarify. I'll show you a couple of pictures, and you tell me if they are glisten or gleam. We'll have a little throw-down right here, and settle it once and for all. Maybe. And if not, at least we can enjoy the pictures.


  1. Wow, I inspired a blog post. I'm flattered. I guess in clothing I'll always choose gleam over glisten. The latter makes me automatically think of glitter lip gloss and the 80s for some reason. By the way, luster sounds really good too.

  2. Lame, to me, Gleams. When I think of Glisten, I think of something sparkling. And, I had the Barbie outfit at the bottom!
    Also, if I ever run across as stack of 1930's Vogues I will bust out into joyful tears-and I don't care who's around to see me!

  3. LOVE the gold number, except maybe the buckle at the back.