In sign language, a gesture (or combination of gestures) that expresses a particular concept. For example, there are glosses for each letter of the alphabet, for the verb "vomit", for the phrase "as a matter of fact".

In learning a new language, we often encounter idioms that don't translate well. The English word "hangover", for example, is represented in German by "Katzenjammer" - figuratively, "cats running around". "Hangover" and "Katzenjammer" can be considered, respectively, the English and German glosses for the universally-understood concept of what one feels the morning after immoderate alcohol consumption.

In our ever-more-specialized world, we find that even an English-speaking biochemist and an English-speaking software engineer may have trouble understanding each others' professional jargon. So, we stick a glossary in the back of a book where new terms, and specialized uses of common terms, abound.

Gloss (?), n. [Cf. Icel. glossi a blaze, glys finery, MHG. glosen to glow, G. glosten to glimmer; perh. akin to E. glass.]

1.

Brightness or luster of a body proceeding from a smooth surface; polish; as, the gloss of silk; cloth is calendered to give it a gloss.

It is no part . . . to set on the face of this cause any fairer gloss than the naked truth doth afford.

Hooker.

2.

A specious appearance; superficial quality or show.

To me more dear, congenial to my heart, One native charm than all the gloss of art. Goldsmith.

 

© Webster 1913.


Gloss, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Glossed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Glossing.]

To give a superficial luster or gloss to; to make smooth and shining; as, to gloss cloth.

The glossed and gleamy wave. J. R. Drake.

 

© Webster 1913.


Gloss, n. [OE. glose, F. glose, L. glossa a difficult word needing explanation, fr. Gr. tongue, language, word needing explanation. Cf. Gloze, Glossary, Glottis.]

1.

A foreign, archaic, technical, or other uncommon word requiring explanation.

[Obs.]

2.

An interpretation, consisting of one or more words, interlinear or marginal; an explanatory note or comment; a running commentary.

All this, without a gloss or comment, He would unriddle in a moment. Hudibras.

Explaining the text in short glosses. T. Baker.

3.

A false or specious explanation.

Dryden.

 

© Webster 1913.


Gloss (?), v. t.

1.

To render clear and evident by comments; to illustrate; to explain; to annotate.

2.

To give a specious appearance to; to render specious and plausible; to palliate by specious explanation.

You have the art to gloss the foulest cause. Philips.

 

© Webster 1913.


Gloss (?), v. i.

1.

To make comments; to comment; to explain.

Dryden.

2.

To make sly remarks, or insinuations.

Prior.

 

© Webster 1913.

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