Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
Word of the Day : September 10, 2012

nuance

play
noun NOO-ahnss

Definition

1 : a subtle distinction or variation

2 : a subtle quality : nicety

3 : sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

Examples

The movie's dialogue didn't sound convincing, partly because none of the characters had mastered the nuances of a Midwestern accent.

"This Scavenger Hunt will be more difficult than earlier ones, and it is expected to bring you into some new corners. Sharp eyes are key, so if I were you, I'd start looking around now and memorizing every nuance in downtown Ocala."- From an article by Dave Schlenker on Ocala.com (Florida), August 9, 2012



Did You Know?

The history of "nuance" starts in Latin with the noun "nubes," meaning "cloud." "Nubes" floated into Middle French as "nue," also meaning "cloud," and "nue" gave rise to "nuer," meaning "to make shades of color." "Nuer" in turn produced "nuance," which in Middle French meant "shade of color." English borrowed "nuance" from French, with the meaning "a subtle distinction or variation," in the late 18th century. That use persists today. Additionally, "nuance" is sometimes used in a specific musical sense, designating a subtle, expressive variation in a musical performance (such as in tempo, dynamic intensity, or timbre) that is not indicated in the score.

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day can be used to describe the moon when it is more than half illuminated but not full? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day