from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Light diminished in intensity as a result of the interception of the rays; partial darkness.
  • noun Cover or shelter provided by interception by an object of the sun or its rays.
  • noun The part of a picture or photograph depicting darkness or shadow.
  • noun A gradation of a color as it is mixed with black or is decreasingly illuminated.
  • noun A slight difference or variation; a nuance: synonym: nuance.
  • noun A small amount; a trace.
  • noun Any of various devices used to reduce or screen light or heat.
  • noun Informal Sunglasses.
  • noun Dark shadows gathering at dusk.
  • noun The abode of the dead; the underworld.
  • noun A disembodied spirit; a ghost.
  • noun A present reminder of a person or situation in the past.
  • intransitive verb To screen from light or heat.
  • intransitive verb To obscure or darken.
  • intransitive verb To represent degrees of shade or shadow in.
  • intransitive verb To produce (gradations of light or color) in a drawing or picture.
  • intransitive verb To change or vary by slight degrees.
  • intransitive verb To make a slight reduction in.
  • intransitive verb To pass from one quality, color, or thing to another by very slight changes or degrees.
  • idiom (a shade) A little bit; slightly.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To shelter or screen from glare or light; shelter from the light and heat of the sun.
  • To hide; screen; shelter; especially, to shelter or screen from injury.
  • To cast a shade over; overspread with darkness, gloom, or obscurity; obscure; cast into the shade.
  • In drawing and painting:
  • To paint in obscure colors; darken.
  • To mark with gradations of color.
  • To cover with a shade or screen; furnish with a shade or something that intercepts light, heat, dust, etc.
  • To typify; foreshow; represent figuratively.
  • To place something near enough to the top of (an open organ-pipe) to affect the vibrating air-column, and thus raise the pitch of its tone.
  • To place (a gun-barrel) so that about half the interior shall be in shadow, for the purpose of testing the straightness of the bore.
  • A dialectal form of shed, shed, and sheath.
  • noun The comparative obscurity, dimness, or gloom caused by the interception or interruption of the rays of light.
  • noun A place or spot sheltered from the sun's rays; a shaded or shady spot; hence, a secluded or obscure retreat.
  • noun plural Darkling shadows; darkness which advances as light wanes; darkness: as, the shades of evening.
  • noun In painting, the dark part or parts of a picture; also, deficiency or absence of illumination.
  • noun Degree or gradation of defective luminosity in a color: often used vaguely from the fact that paleness, or high luminosity combined with defective chroma, is confounded with high luminosity by itself: as, a dark or deep shade; three different shades of brown. See color, huc, and tint.
  • noun A small or scarcely perceptible degree or amount; a trace; a trifle.
  • noun A person's shadow.
  • noun The soul after its separation from the body: so called because supposed to be perceptible to the sight, but not to the touch; a departed spirit; a ghost: as, the shades of departed heroes.
  • noun plural The departed spirits, or their unseen abode; the invisible world of the ancients; Hades: with the definite article.
  • noun A screen; especially, a screen or protection against excessive heat or light; something used to modify or soften the intensity of heat or light: as, a shade for the eyes; a window-shade; a sun shade.
  • noun Specifically
  • noun A colored glass used in a sextant or other optical instrument for solar observation, for toning down and coloring the sun's image, or that of the horizon, in order to make the outlines more distinct and perceptible.
  • noun A globe, cylinder, or conic frustum of glass, porcelain, or other translucent material surrounding the flame of a lamp or candle, a gas-jet, or the like, to confine the light to a particular area, or to soften and diffuse it.
  • noun A hollow perforated cylinder used to cover a night- light.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English sceadu.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English sceadwian

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English sceadu


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  • "It must be a very delicate shade of drab," she wrote, and lest he should get too intense an idea, she would call it a _tint_ of a _shade_ of drab, or, better yet, a _hint_ of a tint of a shade of drab would describe exactly what she meant, and be so entirely unique, and lovely, and recherché.

    Miss McDonald Mary Jane Holmes 1866

  • The label shade echoes the mascara shade, and it's a good representation.

    Epinions Recent Content for Home 2009

  • Only early spring bloomers, like the hepaticas and trilliums, grow in what we call shade -- though at the time of their growth and bloom they have the sunlight through the leafless tree branches.

    Making a Garden of Perennials 1885

  • But either to write or draw with the thermometer at 100 deg. in the shade is a task so laborious, and one's energies become so lymphatic under the moistening influences of heat, that I must content me with relating facts and eschew the realms of fancy.

    The Civil War In America. 1862

  • Close by the shade is the sunshine; look into the dwelling opposite.

    Stuart of Dunleath: A Story of Modern Times 1851

  • The new shade is called “blush” and is a much more understated color than the the original blood red version.

    TWILIGHT SAGA NEWS FOR JUNE 10TH:NEW PACK CLIP, DAVID SLADE, CAST APPEARANCES | Open Society Book Club Discussions and Reviews 2010

  • In all my fantastic biographies-she married an architect, scrolled on columns; she stopped writing and made tables; she was a professor so controversial the German universities erased her name-I never knew the history of that stubble, the thin shade along the jaw that most fascinated me.

    In Search of the Bearded Lady « A Fly in Amber 2010

  • My current fave shade is Peacock, a really cool, shimmering teal that goes perfectly with my wardrobe, hair and skin tone.

    Makeup makes my world go ’round « Bored Mommy 2009

  • On Tuesday, the famed French shoemaker Christian Louboutin SA stepped into the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to make the case that it should effectively own the exclusive right to use red—it calls the shade "China Red"—to coat the bottoms of its popular, pricey high-heeled shoes.

    The Red-Sole Case Ashby Jones 2012

  • If you love taking pictures, the problem you may have is that sometimes the images have extra “stuff” in the frame or you get a yellow shade from the lights around you.

    Five Best Apps for the iPhone or iPod Touch | myFiveBest 2009


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  • At morn and even shades are longest;

    At noon they are or short, or none:

    So men at weakest, they are strongest,

    But grant us perfect, they're not known. 10

    Say, are not women truly, then,

    Styl'd but the shadows of us men?

    - Ben Jonson, 'That Women Are But Men's Shadows'.

    July 28, 2009

  • "34. A material for women's gowns, worn in the eighteenth century."

    --Century Dictionary

    April 4, 2011

  • shade means nuance? interesting!

    A slight difference or variation; a nuance: shades of meaning.

    August 31, 2013