Actually my question is as to comparing the word to garner and to glean but Id like to give reference to the words collect and get also.

The word gerner means

Gather or collect (something, especially information or approval)


The word glean means

Obtain (information) from various sources, often with difficulty.


So what I deduce is that the word garner has a meaning that contains the word glean but broader than it.

For example:

Coppola garnered several Oscar awards for "The Godfather".


I think we cannot replace garner with glean.Because the word glean is more associated with information but I dont see any problem if we replace the word "to garner" with the words like get, gather, collect here.

On the other hand if we look at the examples given for the word "to glean" on Oxford Dictionary, I think we can swap the words without changing their meaning.

Much information is gleaned ( garnered ) from secondary sources or has been covered in more detail elsewhere by previous authors.

Most of her war information is gleaned (garnered ) from her twice-weekly phone chats with her husband.

Information was gleaned ( garnered) from operating reports dictated for the surgical procedures and available for review.


Well most examples on the word garner on Oxford Dictionary also uses the word information so this also support my conclusion.

What do you think?

2 Answers 2


The use of glean has a lot to do with its historical meaning, which involved impoverished peasants collecting leftover grains of wheat from the ground by hand after a field had been harvested in order to avoid starvation. It means that you're picking tiny bits of something useful from a large amount of something of no value. Garner, collect, and get do not have this sense. Note that while gleaning used to have a negative connotation due to its connection to poverty, in the sense that you're using it the word implies care and cleverness - the ability to learn something useful from something that is thought to be worthless.

Garner has its own historical meaning that is closely related, but is the other side of the same coin. Garner has a connotation of gaining or collecting something by merit. It originally meant a storehouse for grain.

A good farmer garners his crop; the poor glean the leftovers.

Collect and get are far more generic verbs. Collect means gathering, usually multiple, items from different locations. Get could contain any of these verbs within its meaning; it's extremely broad.

  • The good thing about this site is that a solid answer gets votes whether it was first or not. +1 to you as well. Aug 22, 2015 at 1:24
  • The desert or merit aspect of garner is important; without it, the use of garner feels like somebody has been writing with a limited working vocabulary and a thesaurus. Aug 22, 2015 at 3:40

I think garner and collect are roughly synonyms (though I personally think that garner is unnecessarily obscure, and often used in places where collect, receive or obtain would be simpler and clearer). They both have the connotation that you are receiving something you intend to keep. Get is broader and does not have this connotation.

Glean originally had a very specific meaning. When a farmer would harvest wheat or similar grains, some of the small grains might be left behind in the field (they might fall off the stalk during the harvest, for example). So people would sometimes pick through the plant material left in the field, looking for grains that they could eat. This action was called gleaning. Obviously it requires very careful searching to find tiny grains of wheat among a large amount of stalks and other vegetation, so the term eventually came to be used for any action where you get something by careful searching, often involving separating a small amount of something important from a large amount of unimportant stuff.

Thus, you should only use glean if you want to suggest that whatever was obtained was difficult to find or separate from a large amount of something else.

As an example, if you say

Most of her war information is garnered from her twice-weekly phone chats with her husband

This could suggest that her husband simply tells her war information. Maybe he is a spy. But if you say

Most of her war information is gleaned from her twice-weekly phone chats with her husband

This suggests that he talks a lot during their chats, but that most of what he says is not war information. Maybe he mostly talks about playing cards with soldiers, but occasionally he reveals something that gives her information about the war. ("Bobby owes me money, but I haven't seen him for a week." Maybe she can infer that Bobby's squad is out on a secret mission.)

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