Printable Version
Pronunciation: glowt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (no direct object)

Meaning: 1. To take immense malicious satisfaction in something (used with the prepositions at and over). 2. To gaze at something with intense satisfaction (with the prepositions on, over or upon).

Notes: Although we don't encounter this sense any more in the US, the Oxford English Dictionary still lists meaning No. 2 above. We include it because it is the bridge between the sense of the word most frequently used today and the word's previous meaning of looking (see Word History). Someone who gloats is a gloater engaged in the process of gloating. Gloating may also be used as an adjective (the gloating father) and an adverb if properly suffixed (to tell of his wife's success gloatingly).

In Play: Gloating is a malicious though not evil sort of pride: "Farnsworth gloated over receiving the promotion rather than Snodgrass until he discovered that it came with no raise." Use of the second meaning is slowly diminishing, which is why we bring it up: "Natalie Cladd gloated on her new $4000 gown several minutes before putting it on." We hope it will return to our conversations and remain there.

Word History: When you gloat you shine, perhaps overshine, from some accomplishment so it is not surprising that today's Good Word originates in the Proto-Indo-European word for shine, ghol-/ghel-. The Os and Es in this type of root often get lost along the way, in this case resulting in ghl-. This form has a superfluity of great-grandchildren in all the English words beginning on GL referring to light, such as gleam, glitter, glisten, glare, glimmer, and glow. The forms with O and E became gold and yellow in English, Gold and gelb "yellow" in German. Over the years this root also took on various senses related to "to look" in the Germanic languages. It turns up as glotzen "to stare, gawk" in German and in some Swedish dialects it appears as glotta "to peep". English probably borrowed one of these words for today's Good Word though the chain of evidence is broken.

Dr. Goodword,

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