1. a very brief, passing look, sight, or view.
  2. a momentary or slight appearance.
  3. a vague idea; inkling.
  4. Archaic. a gleam, as of light.

verb (used with object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.

  1. to catch or take a glimpse of.

verb (used without object), glimpsed, glimps·ing.

  1. to look briefly; glance (usually followed by at).
  2. Archaic. to come into view; appear faintly.


  1. a brief or incomplete viewto catch a glimpse of the sea
  2. a vague indicationhe had a glimpse of what the lecturer meant
  3. archaic a glimmer of light


  1. (tr) to catch sight of briefly or momentarily
  2. (intr usually foll by at) mainly US to look (at) briefly or cursorily; glance (at)
  3. (intr) archaic to shine faintly; glimmer

c.1400, “to glisten, be dazzling,” probably from Old English *glimsian “shine faintly,” from Proto-Germanic *glim- (see gleam). If so, the intrusive -p- would be there to ease pronunciation. Sense of “catch a quick view” first recorded mid-15c. Related: Glimpsed. The noun is recorded from mid-16c.; earlier in verbal noun glimpsing (mid-14c.).

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