1. take, steal;
2. seize, catch.

1. “She signed an affidavit of confession attesting she glommed more than $284,000, the company contends.” — From an article by Frank Donnelly in the Staten Island Advance, September 15, 2008.
2. “In reality, he’s a crook who glommed clinic funds for everything from plane trips to theater tickets to $20,000 in takeout sushi.” — From an editorial in the Daily News (New York), June 15, 2013.

It’s a classic case of glomming: Americans seized on “glaum” (a term from Scots dialect that basically means “grab”) and appropriated it as our own, changing it to “glom” in the process. “Glom” first meant “steal” (as in the purse-snatching, robber kind of stealing), but over time that meaning got stretched, resulting in figurative uses. Today we might say, for example, that a busy professional gloms a weekend getaway. “Glom” also appears frequently in the phrase “glom on to,” which can mean “to appropriate for one’s own use” (“glom on to another’s idea”); “to grab hold of” (“glom on to the last cookie”); or “to latch on to” (“glom on to an opinion” or “glom on to an influential friend”).

Previous articleMargaret Mead
Next articlePenelope Fitzgerald


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here