Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Gloaming

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is gloaming. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Gloaming is a literary term synonymous with twilight and dusk, the darker part of twilight. It’s used most commonly in the noun phrase the gloaming.

// Across the field, fireflies twinkled in the gloaming.

GLOAMING in Context

“There were sourdough waffles to start the day and tuna sandwiches for lunch, a few hours of everyone reading novels in separate corners before a long solitary walk in the gloaming, accompanied by gloved waves across generally empty streets.” — Sam Sifton, The New York Times, 30 Mar. 2020

Did You Know?

If The Gloaming were a Stephen King thriller, the climax would undoubtedly take place at the crepuscular hour. But despite its ties to darkness, the origins of gloaming are less than shadowy. Originally used in Scottish dialects of English, the word traces back to the Old English glōm, meaning “twilight,” which shares an ancestor with the Old English glōwan, meaning “to glow.” In the early 1800s, English speakers looked to Scotland again and borrowed the now-archaic verb gloam, meaning “to become dusk” or “to grow dark.”

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