noun \ ˈshād \
|Updated on: 6 Aug 2018

Definition of shade

1 a : comparative darkness or obscurity owing to interception of the rays of light
b : relative obscurity or retirement
2 a : shelter (as by foliage) from the heat and glare of sunlight
b : a place sheltered from the sun
3 : an evanescent or unreal appearance
4 shades plural
a : the shadows that gather as darkness comes on
5 a : a disembodied spirit : ghost
b used to signal the similarity between a previously encountered person or situation and one at hand usually used in plural
  • shades of my childhood
6 : something that intercepts or shelters from light, sun, or heat: such as
a : a device partially covering a lamp so as to reduce glare
b : a flexible screen usually mounted on a roller for regulating the light or the view through a window
c shades plural : sunglasses
7 a : the reproduction of the effect of shade in painting or drawing
b : a subdued or somber feature
8 a : a color produced by a pigment or dye mixture having some black in it
b : a color slightly different from the one under consideration
9 a : a minute difference or variation : nuance
b : a minute degree or quantity
10 : a facial expression of sadness or displeasure


play \ˈshād-ləs\ adjective
throw shade
US slang
: to express contempt or disrespect for someone publicly especially by subtle or indirect insults or criticisms
  • Christopher Oram's elegant set is a pillared palazzo; at cafe tables wasp-waisted women sip tiny cups of espresso and throw shade at their rivals from behind dark glasses …
  • —Sam Marlowe

Examples of shade in a Sentence

  1. The buildings cast shade on the plaza.

  2. The tree provided plenty of shade.

  3. These plants grow well in shade.

  4. It was a hot sunny day, but luckily their seats for the game were in the shade.

  5. We sat in the shade of a willow tree.

  6. He used his hand as a shade as he looked out into the bright sunlight.

  7. a lamp with a broken shade

  8. She pulled down the shades.

  9. She was wearing a cool pair of shades.

Origin and Etymology of shade

Middle English, from Old English sceadu; akin to Old High German scato shadow, Greek skotos darkness




Definition of shade

shaded; shading
1 a : to shelter or screen by intercepting radiated light or heat
b : to cover with a shade
2 : to hide partly by or as if by a shadow
3 : to darken with or as if with a shadow
4 : to better or exceed by a shade
5 a : to represent the effect of shade or shadow on
b : to add shading to
c : to color so that the shades pass gradually from one to another
6 : to change by gradual transition or qualification
7 : to reduce slightly
  • shade a price
8 : slant, bias
1 : to pass by slight changes or imperceptible degrees
2 : to undergo or exhibit minute difference or variation



Examples of shade in a Sentence

  1. Several large trees shade the house.

  2. She shaded the drawing to give it depth.

  3. The shaded part of the graph represents the amount of sales.

  4. The article shaded the truth by revealing only one side of the story.

Recent Examples of shade from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shade.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of shade

14th century

in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

See Words from the same year
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shade Synonyms



Near Antonyms

illuminate, light, lighten;


SHADE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of shade for English Language Learners

  • : an area of slight darkness that is produced when something blocks the light of the sun

  • : something that is used to block strong light

  • : a darkened area in a drawing, painting, etc.


Definition of shade for English Language Learners

  • : to shelter (something) from strong light and especially from sunlight

  • : to make an area in a drawing, on a graph, etc., darker than other areas

  • : to change (something, such as the truth) slightly in order to deceive people

SHADE Defined for Kids



noun \ ˈshād \

Definition of shade for Students

1 : space sheltered from light or heat and especially from the sun
  • I needed to sit in the shade of a tree.
2 : partial darkness
  • The trees cast shade.
3 : something that blocks off or cuts down light
  • a lamp shade
  • a window shade
4 : the darkness or lightness of a color
  • four shades of brown
5 : a very small difference or amount
  • He's just a shade taller than me.
6 : ghost, spirit
7 : the darkening of some objects in a painting or drawing to suggest that they are in shade




Definition of shade for Students

shaded; shading
1 : to shelter from light or heat
  • I shaded my eyes with a hand.
2 : to mark with or turn a darker color
  • The shaded parts of the graph show growth.
  • Her face shaded purple with embarrassment.

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excessive admiration or flattery

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