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From Middle English glacen (to graze, strike a glancing blow), from Old French glacier (to slip, make slippery). Sense of "look quickly" (first recorded 1580s) probably was influenced in form and meaning by Middle English glenten (to look askance). See glint.



glance (third-person singular simple present glances, present participle glancing, simple past and past participle glanced)

  1. (intransitive) To look briefly (at something).
    She glanced at her reflection as she passed the mirror.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, / Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.
  2. (intransitive) To graze a surface.
  3. To sparkle.
    The spring sunlight was glancing on the water of the pond.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Tennyson
      From art, from nature, from the schools, / Let random influences glance, / Like light in many a shivered lance, / That breaks about the dappled pools.
  4. To move quickly, appearing and disappearing rapidly; to be visible only for an instant at a time; to move interruptedly; to twinkle.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Macaulay
      And all along the forum and up the sacred seat, / His vulture eye pursued the trip of those small glancing feet.
  5. To strike and fly off in an oblique direction; to dart aside.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      Your arrow hath glanced.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      On me the curse aslope / Glanced on the ground.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Mary Shelley, The Mortal Immortal
      I started — I dropped the glass — the fluid flamed and glanced along the floor, while I felt Cornelius's gripe at my throat, as he shrieked aloud, "Wretch! you have destroyed the labour of my life!"
  6. (soccer) To hit lightly with the head, make a deft header.
    • 2011 January 18, “Wolverhampton 5 - 0 Doncaster”, in BBC[1]:
      Doncaster paid the price two minutes later when Doyle sent Hunt away down the left and his pinpoint cross was glanced in by Fletcher for his sixth goal of the season.
  7. To make an incidental or passing reflection; to allude; to hint; often with at.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
      Wherein obscurely / Caesar's ambition shall be glanced at.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Jonathan Swift
      He glanced at a certain reverend doctor.


Derived termsEdit



glance (countable and uncountable, plural glances)

  1. A brief or cursory look.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      Dart not scornful glances from those eyes.
    • 1900, Charles W. Chesnutt, chapter I, in The House Behind the Cedars:
      Warwick left the undertaker's shop and retraced his steps until he had passed the lawyer's office, toward which he threw an affectionate glance.
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
      But Richmond, his grandfather's darling, after one thoughtful glance cast under his lashes at that uncompromising countenance appeared to lose himself in his own reflections.
  2. A deflection.
  3. (cricket) A stroke in which the ball is deflected to one side.
  4. A sudden flash of light or splendour.
  5. An incidental or passing thought or allusion.
  6. (mineralogy) Any of various sulphides, mostly dark-coloured, which have a brilliant metallic lustre.
    copper glance
    silver glance
  7. (mineralogy) Glance coal.
Derived termsEdit