faceless, shimmer and gleam

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jiang

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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
 

Tdol

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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.
 

bertietheblue

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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 a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


Hope that helps!
 

jiang

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Hi,
Thank you very much for your explanation. Now I understand them.
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 a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


Hope that helps!
 

jiang

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Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Member Type
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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
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.
 

jiang

Key Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2003
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
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
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 a subdued or dim wavering light ... [It] stresses reflected light that undulates quickly in a soft or dazzling blur: shimmering water."


Hope that helps!
 
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