v. (wk.)

Gaw past pl. glytered, pres. ptcp. glyterande

'to glitter' (Modern English glitter)


Usually derived from ON, cp. OIcel glitra ‘to glitter’; but as with ME glemered,  a case can be made for native origin. ON glitra, which has cognates in WGmc (MHG, LG glitzern), is an iterative/intensive extension of the root *glit- with the verbal *-r affix, cp. OIcel glita ‘to glitter’ (MDu glitten, Ger glitzen) and the same root with a different suffix in Go glitmunjan ‘to gleam’, OHG glizemo ‘brightness’ (*glit- is best explained as the zero-grade of the root *glīt-, as in OHG glīzan, OS glītan ‘to shine’). This same root *glit- is known in OE, combined with the verbal derivational suffix -n in the commonplace glitenian.  An independent formation with -r in OE (or an independent survival from P(NW)Gmc), i.e. *gliterian, is therefore plausible (thus Bj., following Kluge-Lutz).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

glitra ‘to glitter’
(ONP glitra (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far glitra, Icel glitra, Norw glitra, ODan glidre, Sw glittra

OE Cognate

cp. glitenian 'to glitter, shine'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Common and widespread in ME from the later 14c.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 604, 2039


MED gliteren (v.) , OED glitter (v.) , HTOED , Dance glyter, Bj. 241, de Vries glit, Mag. glitra, Kroonen *glītan-, Seebold gleit-a-