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the comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area.
a place or an area of comparative darkness, as one sheltered from the sun.
window shade.
a lampshade.

darkness gathering at the close of day:
Shades of night are falling.
Informal. sunglasses.
a reminder of something:
shades of the Inquisition.

Usually, shades. a secluded or obscure place:
He was living in the shades.
comparative obscurity.
a specter or ghost.
Greek and Roman Religion. one of the spirits of the dead inhabiting Hades.
a shadow.
the degree of darkness of a color, determined by the quantity of black or by the lack of illumination.
comparative darkness, as the effect of shadow or dark and light, in pictorial representation; the dark part, or a dark part, of a picture or drawing.
a slight variation or degree:
a shade of difference.
a little bit; touch, especially of something that may change the color of or lighten or darken something else:
coffee with a shade of cream.
anything used for protection against excessive light, heat, etc.
(in architectural shades and shadows) a shadow upon those parts of a solid that are tangent to or turned away from the parallel rays from the theoretical light source.
Compare shadow (def 11).
the shades, Hades, as the abode of the spirits of the dead.
to produce shade in or on.
to obscure, dim, or darken.
to screen or hide from view.
to protect (something) from light, heat, etc., by or as by a screen:
to shade the eyes from a bright light.
to cover or screen (a candle, light, etc.):
to shade a light to protect the eyes.
Fine Arts.

to introduce degrees of darkness into (a drawing or painting) in order to render light and shadow or give the effect of color.
to render the values of light and dark in (a drawn figure, object, etc.), especially in order to create the illusion of three-dimensionality.

to change by imperceptible degrees into something else.
to reduce (the price) by way of a concession.
to pass or change by slight graduations, as one color, quality, or thing into another.
shade up, Agriculture. to take shelter (as livestock) from the sun.
cast / put someone in / into the shade, to make another person’s efforts seem insignificant by comparison; surpass:
Her playing puts mine in the shade.
Contemporary Examples

He was standing under a shade tree—“for survival,” he explained.
Demonstrators Pro and Con Greet Supreme Court Health Care Decision Lloyd Grove June 27, 2012

Distances are very hard to gauge, where things are, shade are all very awkward to begin with, but you become accustomed.
Boardwalk Empire’s Scene-Stealer Jace Lacob October 23, 2011

A first draft is really just a sketch on which I add layer and dimension and shade and nuance and color.
Khaled Hosseini: How I Write Noah Charney November 6, 2012

But they do make the family seem a shade more like the rest of America, in all its messy, tacky, imperfect radiance.
Turning Spotlight on Mitt Romney Siblings Could Help Humanize GOP Nominee Michelle Cottle May 29, 2012

On Wednesday, Bernanke threw some shade at the libertarian critics.
Bernanke Drop the Mic as He Exits the Fed Daniel Gross December 18, 2013

Historical Examples

The shade of Deer at once went to the council of birds and animals.
Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes Various

He had drawn the car close to a bank, and they were sitting in the shade, on the grass.
K Mary Roberts Rinehart

We stray onward through the sheen and shade of olive-branches.
Studies of the Greek Poets (Vol II of 2) John Addington Symonds

Crouching low in the shade of a clump of bushes, Grant stole toward the spot.
Good Indian B. M. Bower

There she sat down in the shade of a granite projection, and was lost in thought.
Beatrix Honore de Balzac

relative darkness produced by the blocking out of light
a place made relatively darker or cooler than other areas by the blocking of light, esp sunlight
a position of relative obscurity
something used to provide a shield or protection from a direct source of light, such as a lampshade
a darker area indicated in a painting, drawing, etc, by shading
a colour that varies slightly from a standard colour due to a difference in hue, saturation, or luminosity: a darker shade of green
a slight amount: a shade of difference
(literary) a ghost
an archaic word for shadow
put in the shade, to appear better than (another); surpass
verb (mainly transitive)
to screen or protect from heat, light, view, etc
to make darker or dimmer
to represent (a darker area) in (a painting, drawing, etc), by means of hatching, using a darker colour, etc
(also intransitive) to change or cause to change slightly
to lower (a price) slightly

Middle English schade, Kentish ssed, from late Old English scead “partial darkness; shelter, protection,” also partly from sceadu “shade, shadow, darkness; shady place, arbor, protection from glare or heat,” both from Proto-Germanic *skadwaz (cf. Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch scade, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German Schatten, Gothic skadus), from PIE *skot-wo-, from root *skot- “dark, shade” (cf. Greek skotos “darkness, gloom,” Albanian kot “darkness,” Old Irish scath, Old Welsh scod, Breton squeut “darkness,” Gaelic sgath “shade, shadow, shelter”).

Figurative use in reference to comparative obscurity is from 1640s. Meaning “a ghost” is from 1610s; dramatic (or mock-dramatic) expression “shades of _____” to invoke or acknowledge a memory is from 1818, from the “ghost” sense. Meaning “lamp cover” is from 1780. Sense of “window blind” first recorded 1845. Meaning “cover to protect the eyes” is from 1801. Meaning “grade of color” first recorded 1680s; that of “degree or gradiation of darkness in a color” is from 1680s (cf. nuance, from French nue “cloud”). Meaning “small amount or degree” is from 1782.

c.1400, “to screen from light or heat,” from shade (n.). From 1520s as “to cast a shadow over;” figurative use in this sense from 1580s. Sense in painting and drawing is from 1797. In reference to colors, 1819. Related: Shaded; shading.


A black person (1865+)
A receiver of stolen goods; fence: It is sold to a ”fence” or ”shade” (1925+ Underworld)


To defeat by a narrow margin: Michigan shaded Iowa. The final score was 98 to 96 (1865+)


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