a flash or beam of light: the gleam of a lantern in the dark.
a dim or subdued light.
a brief or slight manifestation or occurrence; trace: a gleam of hope.
verb (used without object)
to send forth a gleam or gleams.
to appear suddenly and clearly like a flash of light.

before 1000; (noun) Middle English glem(e), Old English glǣm; cognate with Old High German gleimo glowworm; akin to Old Saxon glīmo brightness; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun See glimmer, glimpse

gleamingly, adverb
gleamless, adjective
outgleam, verb (used with object)
ungleaming, adjective

1. Gleam, glimmer, beam, ray are terms for a stream of light. Gleam denotes a not very brilliant, intermittent or nondirectional stream of light. Glimmer indicates a nondirectional light that is feeble and unsteady: a faint glimmer of moonlight. Beam usually means a directional, and therefore smaller, stream: the beam from a searchlight. Ray usually implies a still smaller amount of light than a beam, a single line of light: a ray through a pinprick in a window shade. 4. shine, glimmer, flash, glitter, sparkle, beam. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gleam (ɡliːm)
1.  a small beam or glow of light, esp reflected light
2.  a brief or dim indication: a gleam of hope
3.  to send forth or reflect a beam of light
4.  to appear, esp briefly: intelligence gleamed in his eyes
[Old English glǣm; related to Old Norse gljā to flicker, Old High German gleimo glow-worm, glīmo brightness, Old Irish glē bright]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. glæm "brightness, splendor, radiance," from P.Gmc. *glaimiz (cf. M.H.G. glim "spark," gleime "glowworm;" O.N. glija "to shine, glitter"), from root *glim-, from PIE *ghlei- "to shine, glitter, glow, be warm." Verb is early 13c., from the noun.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Stylish teenagers flock to the gleaming mega-mall, watched by shirtless beggars
  crouched in gutters.
Earlier this year, a gleaming new pedestrian bridge near the old town was
  unveiled to much fanfare.
It was adorned with gleaming white limestone buildings, terraced gardens, and
  ritual baths.
Soon the old lunch wagon was carted away and demolished, replaced by the
  gleaming diner.
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