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Glitter vs. Sparkle: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 10, 2023
Glitter refers to tiny, reflective particles that create a shimmering effect, while sparkle denotes a bright, often flickering light or reflection.

Key Differences

Glitter consists of small, shiny pieces or specks, often used for decoration and crafts, producing a surface that shimmers when light hits it. Sparkle, in contrast, refers to a bright, shining light or reflection that is often seen as twinkling or flickering.
The term glitter is often associated with physical objects like glittering fabrics or art materials. Sparkle is more often used to describe the visual effect or quality of a light, like the sparkle of stars or diamonds.
Glitter can be a noun describing the tiny reflective pieces themselves or a verb describing the action of these pieces reflecting light. Sparkle can also be both a noun and a verb, but it emphasizes the action or quality of shining brightly with a flickering light.
The effect of glitter is usually due to multiple small surfaces reflecting light, often used to add a festive or decorative quality. Sparkle suggests a more dynamic, lively light play, often associated with natural phenomena or gemstones.
Glitter's effect is often consistent and continuous, while sparkle tends to imply a more intermittent, varying light, reminiscent of twinkling.

Comparison Chart


Small, reflective particles or pieces
The action or effect of shining with a bright light

Associated Usage

Physical objects (fabric, crafts)
Description of light quality (stars, gemstones)

Effect Type

Consistent shimmer
Intermittent, flickering light

Visual Quality

Multiple surfaces reflecting light
Bright, lively light play


Festive, decorative
Dynamic, natural brilliance

Glitter and Sparkle Definitions


A shimmering or sparkling light from a surface.
The lake glittered under the moonlight.


To emit small flashes of light.
The diamond ring sparkled brilliantly.


Tiny pieces of shiny material used for decoration.
The dress was covered in gold glitter.


A bright, shimmering, reflective light.
The stars sparkle in the night sky.


Small particles that reflect light in a sparkling manner.
The child’s artwork was filled with glitter.


A flickering or twinkling light.
The candlelight sparkled in the dark room.


To shine with a bright, reflected light.
Her eyes glittered with excitement.


To shine or glitter intermittently.
The frost sparkled on the windowpane.


To give off or reflect light in tiny flashes.
The snowy landscape glittered in the sunlight.


To be lively and vivacious.
Her personality had a certain sparkle.


A sparkling or glistening light.


To give off sparks.


Brilliant or showy, often superficial attractiveness.


To give off or reflect flashes of light; glitter
"The night seemed very large and still, and the stars sparkled like frost in the black sky" (Laura Ingalls Wilder). "The diamonds sparkled in a sunset ray that came through the slats of the shutters" (Edith Wharton).


How is sparkle different from glitter?

Sparkle refers to a bright, often flickering light, while glitter is the actual shiny particles.

What is glitter?

Glitter refers to tiny, shiny particles used for decoration.

Can glitter sparkle?

Yes, glitter can sparkle when light reflects off its surfaces.

What materials typically have glitter?

Glitter is often found in crafts, makeup, and decorative fabrics.

Can eyes literally sparkle?

Eyes can appear to sparkle due to reflected light or expressiveness.

Can you use glitter in art?

Yes, glitter is commonly used in art for decorative and visual effects.

What creates a sparkle effect in photography?

In photography, sparkle effects are created by light reflections, often enhanced with lenses.

What causes the sparkle in gemstones?

The cut and clarity of gemstones allow them to reflect light, creating a sparkle.

Is sparkle always related to light?

Sparkle generally refers to a quality of light, though it can also describe liveliness.

Does water sparkle?

Water can sparkle when sunlight or another light source reflects off its surface.

Is glitter a natural phenomenon?

Natural phenomena can glitter, but commonly glitter refers to man-made materials.

Are all shiny objects considered glitter?

Not all shiny objects are considered glitter; glitter specifically refers to small particles.

Can glitter be harmful?

Fine glitter particles can be harmful if inhaled or if they come into contact with eyes.

Do stars actually sparkle?

Stars appear to sparkle from Earth due to atmospheric interference with their light.

Is glitter used in cosmetics?

Yes, glitter is often used in makeup for sparkling effects.

Can sparkle be a personality trait?

Sparkle can metaphorically describe a lively, vivacious personality.

How is sparkle used in writing?

In writing, sparkle is used to describe things that emit light or to characterize lively personalities.

Does sparkle imply brightness?

Sparkle generally implies a degree of brightness and luminosity.

Can glitter be eco-friendly?

Eco-friendly glitter made from biodegradable materials is available.

Is glitter always colorful?

Glitter comes in many colors, including metallic and iridescent shades.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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