• glister •
glis-têr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To sparkle, shine, glitter, glisten. 2. To be brilliant, extremely intelligent, to "shine" (in some subject or activity).
Notes: This word is no longer a member of the general vocabulary; however, it is still used in several dialects. It is a proud member of a group of words referring to light that begin with GL: gleam, glitter, glimmer, glow, glisten, glare. This verb may be used as a noun as is, and the noun has an even rarer adjective, glistery.
In Play: The literal sense of today's Good Word is close to that of shine: "Frederick walked past several glass skyscrapers, glistering from the setting sun." Similarly, the figurative use to this word approaches that of shine: "Fred was on his way to class at university, where he is a glistering student."
Word History: Old English inherited the Germanic root glis- "shine" as glise "to glitter, shine". The Old English word went on to combine with a couple of suffixes to become glisten, glitter and glister. The Germanic word was inherited from a metathesized PIE ghel-ghol- (ghle-/ghlo-) "to shine", from which glow, glare and all the other words above in Notes. It also entered the Germanic languages not metathesized to become gold in English and Gold in German. In Russian it became zoloto and Czech and Slovak zlato "gold". Old Iranian turned this PIE word into zarna- "golden", which became zarnika "arsenic" in Syriac. English arsenic ultimately derives from zarnika. (Thank you, Karrie Thornhill, for recommending today's glistering Good Word.)
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