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  1. #1
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    faceless, shimmer and gleam

    Dear teachers,

    I have two questions to ask:

    No.1
    It's hard to think of a faceless stranger out htere you may kill.
    According to my dictionary "faceless" means: lacking any particular character; difficult to describe or deal with
    What does this mean? The context is car accident.

    No.2
    I find "gleam" meaning "to shine softly"and "shimmer" meaning "to shine with a soft light" confusing. Please read the following sentences:

    a. When I looked out of the window, I could see lights of the village gleaming in the distance.
    b. The gleaming headlights of the cars could be seen through the fog.
    My questions is: Are the two words interchangeable in the two
    sentences?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: faceless, shimmer and gleam

    When you hit someone with your car, you know nothing about them- they have no name, no identity, etc.


    'Shimmer' is not a consistent stream of light, so normally I wouldn't use it for a headlight, but as there's fog around, it would be fine IMO.

  3. #3
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Re: faceless, shimmer and gleam

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    I have two questions to ask:

    No.1
    It's hard to think of a faceless stranger out htere you may kill.
    According to my dictionary "faceless" means: lacking any particular character; difficult to describe or deal with
    What does this mean? The context is car accident.

    No.2
    I find "gleam" meaning "to shine softly"and "shimmer" meaning "to shine with a soft light" confusing. Please read the following sentences:

    a. When I looked out of the window, I could see lights of the village gleaming in the distance.
    b. The gleaming headlights of the cars could be seen through the fog.
    My questions is: Are the two words interchangeable in the two
    sentences?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    I've just hunted out SI Hayakawa's 'Modern Guide to Synonyms' and here's what he had to say back in 1968:

    (p355) "Gleaming may indicate a source of light, in which case it merely suggests brightness: gleaming sunlight. More specifically, gleaming may suggest the brightness of reflected light: the new skyscraper's gleaming wall of glass. Its overtones in this case are of spotlessness. Gleaming may also suggest dimness: the night's darkness punctuated by faintly gleaming birches."
    (p572) "Shimmering ... suggest[s] a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


    Hope that helps!

  4. #4
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: faceless, shimmer and gleam

    Hi,
    Thank you very much for your explanation. Now I understand them.
    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I've just hunted out SI Hayakawa's 'Modern Guide to Synonyms' and here's what he had to say back in 1968:

    (p355) "Gleaming may indicate a source of light, in which case it merely suggests brightness: gleaming sunlight. More specifically, gleaming may suggest the brightness of reflected light: the new skyscraper's gleaming wall of glass. Its overtones in this case are of spotlessness. Gleaming may also suggest dimness: the night's darkness punctuated by faintly gleaming birches."
    (p572) "Shimmering ... suggest[s] a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


    Hope that helps!

  5. #5
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: faceless, shimmer and gleam

    Dear Tdol,
    "shimmer" is difficult to understand because I have just came across a sentence in my exercise book:

    The gleaming headlights of the cars could be seen throug the fog.
    Or is it possible that this is a mistake? Should it be:
    The shimmering of the headlights of the cars could be seen through the fog?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    When you hit someone with your car, you know nothing about them- they have no name, no identity, etc.


    'Shimmer' is not a consistent stream of light, so normally I wouldn't use it for a headlight, but as there's fog around, it would be fine IMO.

  6. #6
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Re: faceless, shimmer and gleam

    Dear bertietheblue,

    I think I understand the difference between the two words. But I am confused by another group---"shine", "glow" and "gleam". Both mean "brightness". Could you please kindly explain the difference between them?

    I have consulted the online dictionary:
    shine: to send out or reflect light
    gleam: to produce or reflect a small, bright light
    glow: to produce a continuous light and sometimes heat

    Does it mean "gleam" is small and bright while "shine" is more general word for "light"? And can I replace "glow" with "gleam" in the following sentence:

    A nightlight glowed dimly in the corner of the children's bedroom.


    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I've just hunted out SI Hayakawa's 'Modern Guide to Synonyms' and here's what he had to say back in 1968:

    (p355) "Gleaming may indicate a source of light, in which case it merely suggests brightness: gleaming sunlight. More specifically, gleaming may suggest the brightness of reflected light: the new skyscraper's gleaming wall of glass. Its overtones in this case are of spotlessness. Gleaming may also suggest dimness: the night's darkness punctuated by faintly gleaming birches."
    (p572) "Shimmering ... suggest[s] a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by jiang; 06-Jun-2010 at 09:11.

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