There are some words that have similar sounds, though they seem to not share any particular root, and have general connotation. For example, gl-, in gleam, glitter, glisten, has something to do with shiny things. That's the only one I can think of, but I saw an article with one or two other similar "root"s.

Is there a name for words/sounds/roots like these?

Is there a good resource for a list of them? Could be fun to learn them all and use them for poetic effect.

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    Your example reminds me of the Jabberwocky and how the nonsense sounds of the words reveal their implied definition: "'twas brillig" which sort of evokes "bright" and "brilliant". Oct 28, 2010 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


I don't know what to call gl- in contemporary English (it's not even a morpheme), but in all of your three words, it descends from the same Proto-Indo-European base with the meaning "to shine, glitter, glow, be warm".

Two good resources for browsing Proto-Indo-European roots and identifying English words with common origins are:

  1. Wiktionary
  2. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
  • is it the same root as "glance, glamor, glare, glean, gloss, glimmer," and "glabrescent"? (Ok forget the last one =P).
    – Claudiu
    Oct 29, 2010 at 13:53

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