1. a superficial luster or shine; glaze: the gloss of satin.
  2. a false or deceptively good appearance.
  3. Also glosser. a cosmetic that adds sheen or luster, especially one for the lips.

verb (used with object)

  1. to put a gloss upon.
  2. to give a false or deceptively good appearance to: to gloss over flaws in the woodwork.


  1. an explanation or translation, by means of a marginal or interlinear note, of a technical or unusual expression in a manuscript text.
  2. a series of verbal interpretations of a text.
  3. a glossary.
  4. an artfully misleading interpretation.

verb (used with object)

  1. to insert glosses on; annotate.
  2. to place (a word) in a gloss.
  3. to give a specious interpretation of; explain away (often followed by over or away): to gloss over a serious problem with a pat solution.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make glosses.

  1. a combining form meaning “tongue, word, speech,” used in the formation of compound words: glossology.

  1. glossary.


    1. lustre or sheen, as of a smooth surface
    2. (as modifier)gloss paint
  1. a superficially attractive appearance
  2. See gloss paint
  3. a cosmetic preparation applied to the skin to give it a faint sheenlip gloss


  1. to give a gloss to or obtain a gloss


  1. a short or expanded explanation or interpretation of a word, expression, or foreign phrase in the margin or text of a manuscript, etc
  2. an intentionally misleading explanation or interpretation
  3. short for glossary

verb (tr)

  1. to add glosses to

abbreviation for

  1. glossary

combining form

  1. indicating a tongue or languageglossolaryngeal

“luster,” 1530s, from Scandinavian (cf. Icelandic glossi “flame,” related to glossa “to flame”), or obsolete Dutch gloos “a glowing,” from Middle High German glos; probably ultimately from the same source as Old English glowan (see glow (v.)).


“word inserted as an explanation,” 1540s (earlier gloze, c.1300), from Latin glossa “obsolete or foreign word,” one that requires explanation; hence also “explanation, note,” from Greek glossa (Ionic), glotta (Attic) “obscure word, language,” also “mouthpiece,” literally “tongue,” from PIE *glogh- “thorn, point, that which is projected” (cf. Old Church Slavonic glogu “thorn”). Figurative use from 1540s. Both glossology (1716) and glottology (1841) have been used in the sense “science of language.”


1570s as “insert a word as an explanation,” from gloss (n.2). From 1650s as “to add luster,” from gloss (n.1). Figurative sense of “smooth over, hide” is from 1729, mostly from gloss (n.1) but showing influence of gloss (n.2) in the extended verbal sense of “explain away” (1630s), from idea of a note inserted in the margin of a text to explain a difficult word. Related: Glossed; glossing.

word-forming element meaning “tongue,” from Greek glosso-, comb. form of glossa “tongue” (see gloss (n.2)).


  1. Tongue:glossospasm.

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