A gloss is a brief summary of a word's meaning, equivalent to the dictionary entry of that word, but only a word or two in length. It is typically used for the meaning of a word in another language, and hence a simple translation.
A gloss can often specifically refer to a note made in the margins or between the lines of a book, in which the meaning of the text in its original language is explained. As such, glosses can vary in thoroughness and complexity, from simple marginal notations of words one reader found difficult or obscure, to entire interlinear translations of the original text and cross references to similar passages.
A collection of glosses is a glossary (though glossary also means simply a collection of specialized terms with their meanings). A collection of medieval legal glosses, made by so called glossators, commenting legal texts, 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.
Glosses are of some importance in philology, especially if one language—usually, the language of the author of the gloss—has left few texts of its own. The Reichenau glosses, for example, gloss the Latin Vulgate Bible in an early form of one of the Romance languages, and as such give insight into late Vulgar Latin at a time when that language was not often written down. A series of glosses in the Old English language to Latin Bibles give us a running translation of Biblical texts in that language; see Old English Bible translations. Glosses of Christian religious texts are also important for our knowledge of Old Irish. Glosses frequently shed valuable light on the vocabulary of otherwise little attested languages; they are less reliable for syntax, because many times the glosses follow the word order of the original text, and translate its idioms literally.
A longer or more complex transcription requires an interlinear gloss. This is often placed between a text and its translation when it is important to understand the structure of the language being glossed.
A semi-standardized set of parsing conventions and grammatical abbreviations is explained in the Leipzig Glossing Rules
Fingerspelling is transcribed directly; this is commonly indicated with either a hash (#WIKI) or by hyphenation (W-I-K-I).
LITTLE MIZ; JUNIORS' : MIXING RETAIL KNOW-HOW AND EDGY DESIGN TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL WHOLESALE BIZ, MIZ MOOZ IS ON THE MOVE -- EVEN THOUGH THE TIMING IS LESS THAN IDEAL.
Jul 25, 2005; Byline: Michelle Baran Miz mooz has gone from zero to 50 in less than a year -- a rapid pace, considering the retail...