A gloss (from Latin: glossa, from Greek: γλῶσσα glóssa "language") is a brief marginal notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different.

A collection of glosses is a glossary. A collection of medieval legal glosses, made by so-called glossators, is called an apparatus. The compilation of glosses into glossaries was the beginning of lexicography, and the glossaries so compiled were in fact the first dictionaries. In modern times a glossary, as opposed to a dictionary, is typically found in a text as an appendix of specialized terms that the typical reader may find unfamiliar. Also, satirical explanations of words and events are called glosses. The German Romantic movement used the expression of gloss for poems commenting on a given other piece of poetry, often in the Spanish Décima style.

Glosses were originally notes made in the margin or between the lines of a text in a Classical language, in which the meaning of a word or passage is explained. As such, glosses vary in thoroughness and complexity, from simple marginal notations of words one reader found difficult or obscure, to interlinear translations of a text with cross references to similar passages.

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Famous quotes containing the word gloss:

    Amongst the learned the lawyers claim first place, the most self-satisfied class of people, as they roll their rock of Sisyphus and string together six hundred laws in the same breath, no matter whether relevant or not, piling up opinion on opinion and gloss on gloss to make their profession seem the most difficult of all. Anything which causes trouble has special merit in their eyes.
    Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536)