1530s, "faint or transient appearance," from glimpse (v.). From 1570s as "a brief and imperfect view." Earlier was the verbal noun glimpsing "imperfect vision" (late 14c.).
c. 1400, "to glisten, be dazzling," probably from Old English *glimsian "shine faintly," part of the group of Germanic words in *gl- having to do with "smooth; shining; joyous," from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine." If so, the unetymological -p- would be there to ease pronunciation. From mid-15c. as "to glance with the eyes;" from 1779 as "catch a quick view." Related: Glimpsed; glimpsing.
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