Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
February 29th, 2016
Episode 464 of 903 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 29, 2016 is: glean \GLEEN\ verb 1 : to gather grain or other produce left by reapers 2 a : to gather (as information) bit by bit b : to pick over in search of relevant material 3 : to find out Examples: Investigators have been able to glean some useful information from the seized documents. "He won four gold medals in London on his talent and the experience hegleanedfrom three previous Olympics." — Suzanne Halliburton, The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, 15 Jan. 2016 Did you know? Glean comes from Middle English glenen, which traces to Anglo-French glener, meaning "to glean." The French borrowed their word from Late Latin glennare, which also means "to glean" and is itself of Celtic origin. Both the grain-gathering sense and the collecting-bit-by-bit senses of our glean date back at least to the 14th century. Over the years, and especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, glean has also come to be used frequently with the meaning "to find out, learn, ascertain." This sense has been criticized by folks who think glean should always imply the drudgery involved in the literal grain-gathering sense, but it is well established and perfectly valid.