gloss [Gr., = tongue], explanatory note on a word or words of a text, usually written between the lines or in a margin of a manuscript. In copying a manuscript, a copyist sometimes incorporated a gloss in the text, so that the copy departed from the original. The gloss may be in a language different from that of the text. Old glosses on the Bible have value as evidence of tradition, as have glosses in civil and canon law.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.