v. (past pl.)


(Modern English glimmer)


Variously derived from ON (ODEE) and Continental WGmc (MED), as analogous verbs with the same sense formed as iterative/intensive derivatives in *-r- (see e.g. Krahe-Meid III §196) on the root *glim- occur in both (cp. MSw glimra, Da glimre and MHG and Du glimmer(e)n)). Cp. the verbs Sw glimma, ODan glimme, MDu glimmen ‘to shine’ and the nouns Sw dial. glim, Du glim ‘flash’, MHG glim ‘spark’; *glim- is probably best accounted for as the zero-grade Ablaut of the PGmc root otherwise represented by *glīm- (cp. MHG glīmen ‘to shine’, Norw glīma ‘to smoulder’; OS glīmo ‘brightness’, OHG glīm, glīmo ‘glow-worm’) and *glaim- (cp. OE (poetic) glǣm ‘beam or radiance of light; radiance, radiant beauty’, OHG gleimo ‘glow-worm’). However, a native formation on *glim- for both ME glimeren and its equivalent n. glymme  is very plausible (so OED, TGD, GDS), particularly if the hapax OE gleomu (see DOE) represents earlier *gliomu < *glimu with back mutation.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Dan glimre, MSw glimra

OE Cognate

cp. gleomu (n.) ‘splendour’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



A handful of occurrences in ME (from a1375 WPal.(KC 13)), with no obvious geographical bias.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 172

Gaw 172 MS <glemered> with mark of abbreviation is misread glemed by Madden.


MED glimeren (v.) , OED glimmer (v.) , HTOED , ODEE glimmer, Dance glemered, Hellquist glimra, Nielsen glimre