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

  • n. Light diminished in intensity as a result of the interception of the rays; partial darkness.
  • n. An area or a space of partial darkness.
  • n. Cover or shelter provided by interception by an object of the sun or its rays.
  • n. Any of various devices used to reduce or screen light or heat.
  • n. Slang Sunglasses.
  • n. Relative obscurity.
  • n. Dark shadows gathering at dusk: "The shades of night are falling fast” ( Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).
  • n. The abode of the dead; the underworld.
  • n. The part of a picture or photograph depicting darkness or shadow.
  • n. The degree to which a color is mixed with black or is decreasingly illuminated; gradation of darkness.
  • n. A slight difference or variation; a nuance: shades of meaning.
  • n. A small amount; a trace: detected a shade of bitterness in her remarks.
  • n. A disembodied spirit; a ghost.
  • n. A present reminder of a person or situation in the past: shades of my high-school days.
  • transitive v. To screen from light or heat.
  • transitive v. To obscure or darken.
  • transitive v. To cause shade in or on.
  • transitive v. To represent degrees of shade or shadow in: shade a drawing.
  • transitive v. To produce (gradations of light or color) in a drawing or picture.
  • transitive v. To change or vary by slight degrees: shade the meaning.
  • transitive v. To make a slight reduction in: shade prices.
  • intransitive v. To pass from one quality, color, or thing to another by very slight changes or degrees.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Darkness where light, particularly sunlight, is blocked.
  • n. Something that blocks light, particularly in a window.
  • n. A variety of a colour/color, in particular one obtained by adding black (compare tint).
  • n. A subtle variation in a concept.
  • n. An aspect that is reminiscent of something.
  • n. A ghost.
  • n. A creature that is partially human and partially angel.
  • n. A postage stamp showing an obvious difference in colour/color to the original printing and needing a separate catalogue/catalog entry.
  • v. To shield from light.
  • v. To alter slightly.
  • v. To vary slightly, particularly in color.
  • v. (baseball) When a defensive player moves slightly from his normal fielding position.
  • v. To darken, particularly in drawing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Comparative obscurity owing to interception or interruption of the rays of light; partial darkness caused by the intervention of something between the space contemplated and the source of light.
  • n. Darkness; obscurity; -- often in the plural.
  • n. An obscure place; a spot not exposed to light; hence, a secluded retreat.
  • n. That which intercepts, or shelters from, light or the direct rays of the sun; hence, also, that which protects from heat or currents of air; a screen; protection; shelter; cover.
  • n. Shadow.
  • n. The soul after its separation from the body; -- so called because the ancients it to be perceptible to the sight, though not to the touch; a spirit; a ghost.
  • n. The darker portion of a picture; a less illuminated part. See Def. 1, above.
  • n. Degree or variation of color, as darker or lighter, stronger or paler.
  • n. A minute difference or variation, as of thought, belief, expression, etc.; also, the quality or degree of anything which is distinguished from others similar by slight differences.
  • intransitive v. To undergo or exhibit minute difference or variation, as of color, meaning, expression, etc.; to pass by slight changes; -- used chiefly with a preposition, as into, away, off.
  • transitive v. To shelter or screen by intercepting the rays of light; to keep off illumination from.
  • transitive v. To shelter; to cover from injury; to protect; to screen; to hide.
  • transitive v. To obscure; to dim the brightness of.
  • transitive v. To pain in obscure colors; to darken.
  • transitive v. To mark with gradations of light or color.
  • transitive v. To present a shadow or image of; to shadow forth; to represent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. The comparative obscurity, dimness, or gloom caused by the interception or interruption of the rays of light.
  • n. A place or spot sheltered from the sun's rays; a shaded or shady spot; hence, a secluded or obscure retreat.
  • n. plural Darkling shadows; darkness which advances as light wanes; darkness: as, the shades of evening.
  • n. In painting, the dark part or parts of a picture; also, deficiency or absence of illumination.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A small or scarcely perceptible degree or amount; a trace; a trifle.
  • n. A person's shadow.
  • n. 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.
  • n. plural The departed spirits, or their unseen abode; the invisible world of the ancients; Hades: with the definite article.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Specifically
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A hollow perforated cylinder used to cover a night- light.
  • n. A hollow glass covering for protecting ornaments, etc., from dust.
  • n. A more or less opaque curtain of linen, muslin, paper, or other flexible material, used at a window to exclude light, or to regulate the amount admitted; a blind. Shades are usually attached to a roller actuated by a spring within it, or by a cord.
  • n. Milit., same as umbrel.
  • n. Guise; cover.
  • n. In entomology, a part of a surface, generally without definite borders, where the color is deepened and darkened either by being intensified or by admixture of black: applied especially to dark, ill-defined spaces on the wings of moths, which in some cases are distinguished by specific names: as, the median shade.
  • n. Same as shutter : as, the shades of the swell-box in a pipe-organ.
  • n. Synonyms Shade, Shadow. Shade differs from shadow, as it implies no particular form or definite limit, whereas a shadow represents in form the object which intercepts the light. Hence, when we say, let us resort to the shade of a tree, we have no thought of form or size, as of course we have when we speak of measuring a pyramid or other object by its shadow.
  • n. Apparition, Specter, etc. See ghost.
  • n. A material for women's gowns, worn in the eighteenth century.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a representation of the effect of shadows in a picture or drawing (as by shading or darker pigment)
  • n. protective covering that protects something from direct sunlight
  • v. cast a shadow over
  • n. a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color
  • n. a mental representation of some haunting experience
  • v. pass from one quality such as color to another by a slight degree
  • v. represent the effect of shade or shadow on
  • n. a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
  • v. vary slightly
  • v. protect from light, heat, or view
  • n. a slight amount or degree of difference
  • n. a position of relative inferiority
  • n. relative darkness caused by light rays being intercepted by an opaque body


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 sceadu

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English sceadwian


  • "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

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

    Epinions Recent Content for Home

  • 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

  • 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.

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

    Stuart of Dunleath: A Story of Modern Times

  • 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

  • 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

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


  • 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

  • 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


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • shade means nuance? interesting!

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

    August 31, 2013

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

    --Century Dictionary

    April 4, 2011

  • 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