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Noun from Middle English schade, from Old English sċeadu, sċadu (shadow; shade), from Proto-West Germanic *skadu, from Proto-Germanic *skadwaz (shadow; shade). More at shadow.

Verb from Old English sceadwian, derived from sċeadu, above.


  • enPR: shād, IPA(key): /ʃeɪd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪd


shade (countable and uncountable, plural shades)

  1. (uncountable) Darkness where light, particularly sunlight, is blocked.
    The old oak tree gave shade in the heat of the day.
  2. (countable) Something that blocks light, particularly in a window.
    Close the shade, please: it's too bright in here.
  3. (countable) A variety of a color, in particular one obtained by adding black (compare tint).
    I've painted my room in five lovely shades of pink and chartreuse.
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. [], London: [] Eliz[abeth] Holt, for Thomas Basset, [], →OCLC:
      Thus light and colours, as white, red, yellow, blue, with their several degrees or shades, and mixtures, as green, scarlet, purple, sea-green, and the rest, come in only by the eyes []
  4. (figuratively) A subtle variation in a concept.
    shades of meaning
  5. (figuratively) An aspect that is reminiscent of something.
    shades of Groucho
  6. A very small degree of a quantity, or variety of meaning
    • 1934, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple Tells a Story:
      Mrs. Rhodes who (so I gathered from Mr. Petherick's careful language) was perhaps just a shade of a hypochondriac, had retired to bed immediately after dinner.
    • 1990 April 7, Wickie Stamps, “The 'Temple' Is Familiar”, in Gay Community News, page 12:
      Five feet in diameter and a shade above knee high, the center of the fragile white canvass structure is filled with []
  7. (chiefly literary and fantasy) A ghost or specter; a spirit.
    Too long have I been haunted by that shade.
    The adventurer was attacked by a shade.
  8. (countable) A postage stamp showing an obvious difference in colour/color to the original printing and needing a separate catalogue/catalog entry.
  9. (uncountable, originally gay slang) Subtle insults.
    Why did you paint your room chartreuse? No shade; I'm genuinely curious.
    • 1990, Jennie Livingston, director, Paris Is Burning, spoken by Dorian Corey:
      Shade is: "I don't tell you you're ugly, but I don't have to tell you because you know you're ugly." And that's shade.
  10. (countable) A cover around or above a light bulb, a lampshade.
    • 1979 August, Graham Burtenshaw, Michael S. Welch, “O.V.S. Bulleid's SR loco-hauled coaches - 1”, in Railway World, page 398:
      Lighting was unimaginative for the standard stock with naked tungsten filament bulbs and metal reflectors. However, all compartments had individual reading lights above the seats with attractive glass shades.
  11. (historical) A candle-shade.
    • 1817, T. Munro, Life, i. 511:
      I am now finishing this letter by candle-light, with the help of a handkerchief tied over the shade.
    • 1789, Munro's Narrative, 186
      His tent is furnished with a good large bed, mattress, pillow, &c., a few camp-stools or chairs, a folding table, a pair of shades for his candles, six or seven trunks with table equipage, his stock of linen (at least 24 shirts); some dozens of wine, brandy, and gin; tea, sugar, and biscuit; and a hamper of live poultry and his milch-goat.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


shade (third-person singular simple present shades, present participle shading, simple past and past participle shaded)

  1. (transitive) To shield (someone or something) from light.
    The old oak tree shaded the lawn in the heat of the day.
  2. (intransitive, rare) To shield oneself from light.
    We shaded under a huge oak tree.
  3. (transitive) To alter slightly.
    You'll need to shade your shot slightly to the left.
    Most politicians will shade the truth if it helps them.
  4. (intransitive) To vary or approach something slightly, particularly in color.
    The hillside was bright green, shading towards gold in the drier areas.
    • 1886, Edmund Gurney, Phantasms of the Living:
      This small group will be most conveniently treated with the emotional division, into which it shades.
  5. (intransitive, baseball, of a defensive player) To move slightly from one's normal fielding position.
    Jones will shade a little to the right on this pitch count.
  6. (transitive) To darken, particularly in drawing.
    I draw contours first, gradually shading in midtones and shadows.
  7. To surpass by a narrow margin.
    Both parties claimed afterwards that their man did best in the debate, but an early opinion poll suggested Mr Cameron shaded it.
  8. (transitive, graphical user interface) To reduce (a window) so that only its title bar is visible.
    Antonym: unshade
  9. (transitive, slang) To throw shade, to subtly insult someone.
    • 2021 December 8, Arwa Mahdawi, “Elon Musk is learning a hard lesson: never date a musician”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The lyrics have prompted headlines about her “shading” Musk with a “spicy dig”, but I reckon the guy got off lightly.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To shelter; to cover from injury; to protect; to screen.
  11. (transitive, obsolete) To present a shadow or image of; to shadow forth; to represent.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.