On “Gloaming”

Say the word gloaming aloud to yourself.  Does it not have such a lovely sound?  What does it make you think of?  It reminds me of something like to dusk and twilight but…gloamier.  Not as dark as dusk—perhaps not even as dark as twilight.  That lovely, velvety time of evening when it is dark but not quite so, and the sky is that mysterious bluey-green colour.

Gloaming is of Anglo-Saxon origin, coming directly from the word glóming.  The Anglo-Saxon word glóm means “twilight” (English receives gloom from this word also), but it also comes from the Germanic root glô-, meaning “glow.”  Knit the two together and you get that strange, glowing light that appears on the horizon just after the sun has fully set.

But where does gloom come in?  If you think about it, when the horizon is lit with that post-sunset glow, the face of the earth, particularly under the trees, is dark in comparison—but it is not completely dark.  It is gloomy.

The word gloaming is slightly archaic, which is possibly why it endures in works of the archaic variety and is not often found in modern literature.  We have the Scottish and the Yorkshire dialect to thank for keeping the word alive in the English vocabulary.  The fact that the word survives in the Yorkshire dialect is probably why gloaming carries about it a Highland-ish aroma.

No, sadly, loam has no relation to gloaming.  I checked.

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Read more about gloaming here.  If I have sparked your interest about loam, you can read more about that word here.

2 thoughts on “On “Gloaming”

  1. I have always loved the word “gloaming.” Now that you have introduced me to its etymology, I find it even more wonderful. A word which is related to “glow” on the one hand, and “gloom” on the other! It has a flavour of enchantment about it.


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