Just a little flash of light.  Tolkien does not use the obsolete meaning in The Hobbit, but I’m delighted to note it here: a flash of eyes.

  • 04.018 Now there came a glimmer
  • 05.009 as he knew by the glimmer of his sword,
  • 05.109 as Bilbo could see from the faint glimmer on the walls.
  • 08.002 in a sort of darkened green glimmer.
  • 08.033 They glimmered
  • 13.044 A white glimmer could be seen

“glimmer, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.


“Gleam”, distributed fairly evenly throughout the work, is related to “glimmer” and “glimpse”.  The root *glim- can be found in glimmer, glimpse, glim (brightness).  It’s a ray of light or even of radiant beauty.

  • 01.075 There many a gleaming golden hoard
  • 03.001 and behind its shoulders the tips of snow-peaks gleamed.
  • 04.041 It burned with a rage that made it gleam
  • 05.126 and his eyes gleamed cold
  • 05.127 in the gleam of his own eyes,
  • 06.052 but you could see his eyes gleaming
  • 08.005 and when it was Bilbo’s turn he would see gleams
  • 08.005 and sometimes they would gleam down
  • 08.071 Their gleaming hair was twined with flowers;
  • 10.020 The gold gleamed on his neck
  • 11.029 there was a gleam of yellow upon its far roof,
  • 11.032 A gleam of light came straight through the opening
  • 11.037 The gleam went out,
  • 13.009 There was not a gleam of light –
  • 13.017 a twinkling gleam showed them returning,
  • 13.019 the same white gleam had shone before him
  • 17.050 with a gleam of chill flame,
  • 17.055 in the gloom the great dwarf gleamed like gold
  • 17.062 Seeing the sudden gleam
  • 18.032 that it gleamed ever
  • 18.053 snow yet unmelted was gleaming pale.

“gleam, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.