c. 1300, glideren (late 14c. as gliteren), from an unrecorded Old English word or from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse glitra "to glitter," from Proto-Germanic *glit- "shining, bright" (source also of Old English glitenian "to glitter, shine; be distinguished," Old High German glizzan, German glitzern, Gothic glitmunjan), from PIE *ghleid- (source also of Greek khlidon, khlidos "ornament"), from root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives referring to bright materials and gold. Related: Glittered; glittering. Other Middle English words for "to glitter" include glasteren and glateren.
c. 1600, "sparkling or scintillating light," from glitter (v.). As "sparkling powdery substance" used in ornamentation, by 1956. Glitter rock is from 1972.