Glimpse and Glance: Same or Different?
Some writers and speakers use the words glimpse and glance interchangeably, but there are differences.
Glimpse comes from a word that meant “glimmer” or “sparkle.”
As a noun, a glimpse is something that catches the eye:
I caught a glimpse of her through the car window.
As a verb, to glimpse is to see something momentarily:
I glimpsed the knife before she slipped it into her bag.
Glance comes from a word that meant “to move quickly.”
As a noun, glance is a brief look that passes from one person to another or to a thing.
The man’s glance at the chorus girl seemed threatening.
I didn’t like the glance she cast at my gold watch.
As a verb, to glance is to bounce off something or to take a quick look at something.
The sun’s rays glanced off the surface of the newly washed car.
The arrow glanced harmlessly off the knight’s armor.
Would you glance at this letter before I sign it?
Here’s how Fowler explains the difference in Modern English Usage:
the glimpse is what is seen by the glance, and not the glance itself; you take or give a glance at something, but get a glimpse of it.
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