General English


  • Surface luster, usually expressed in terms ranging from matte to high gloss.


  • The ratio of the light reflected in one direction, to the light reflected in all directions.
  • A shine or luster that a surface displays.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a short definition, explanation or translation of a word or phrase that may be unfamiliar to the reader, often located in a margin or collected in an appendix or glossary


  • noun an interpretation given to a word or phrase

Media Studies

  • adjective of a photographic print, made on shiny paper.
  • noun a short definition of a word or phrase on a page that may be unfamiliar to the reader


  • verb words in a document used to explain it more fully or to explain specific words

Real Estate

  • noun used for describing paint that has a high sheen, shinier than eggshell or matt paint
  • verb to apply gloss paint to something

Origin & History of “gloss”

English has two words gloss. The one meaning ‘shining surface’ (16th c.) is of unknown origin, although no doubt it belongs ultimately to the general nexus of words beginning gl- which mean broadly ‘bright, shining’. Forms such as Icelandic glossi ‘spark’ and Swedish dialect glossa ‘glow’ suggest a Scandinavian origin. Gloss ‘explanation, definition’ (16th c.) goes back to Greek glossa ‘tongue’, source also of English epiglottis (17th c.). this developed the secondary sense ‘language’ (as English tongue itself has done), and was borrowed by Latin as glōssa meaning ‘foreign word needing an explanation’, and eventually the ‘explanation’ itself. It passed into English via medieval Latin glōsa and Old French glose as gloze in the 14th century, and was reformulated as gloss on the basis of classical Latin glōssa in the 16th century. Glossary (14th c.) comes from the Latin derivative glossārium.