1. Light diminished in intensity as a result of the interception of the rays; partial darkness.
2. Cover or shelter provided by interception by an object of the sun or its rays: sat in the shade under the tree.
3. The part of a picture or photograph depicting darkness or shadow.
a. A gradation of a color as it is mixed with black or is decreasingly illuminated: shades of gray.
b. A slight difference or variation; a nuance: shades of meaning. See Synonyms at nuance.
c. A small amount; a trace: detected a shade of bitterness in her remarks.
a. Any of various devices used to reduce or screen light or heat: closed the window shades.
b. shades Informal Sunglasses.
a. Dark shadows gathering at dusk: “The shades of night are falling fast” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).
b. The abode of the dead; the underworld: went to the shades of hell.
a. A disembodied spirit; a ghost.
b. shades A present reminder of a person or situation in the past: shades of my high-school days.
8. Slang Scornful criticism or contempt: “Most fans are now speculating that the letters written on her gown were not just random and in fact were supposed to throw shade at her estranged husband” (Ashley Mitchell).
v. shad·ed, shad·ing, shades
1. To screen from light or heat: Trees shaded the street.
2. To obscure or darken: “A sliver of mustache shaded his upper lip” (Michael Finkel).
a. To represent degrees of shade or shadow in: shade a drawing.
b. To produce (gradations of light or color) in a drawing or picture: shaded the pink in the sunset.
4. To change or vary by slight degrees: shade the meaning.
5. To make a slight reduction in: shade prices.
To pass from one quality, color, or thing to another by very slight changes or degrees.
A little bit; slightly: a sprinter who was a shade quicker that the rest.
[Middle English, from Old English sceadu.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.