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nuance

[noo-ahns, nyoo-, noo-ahns, nyoo-; French ny-ahns]
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noun, plural nu·anc·es [noo-ahn-siz, nyoo-, noo-ahn-siz, nyoo-; French ny-ahns] /ˈnu ɑn sɪz, ˈnyu-, nuˈɑn sɪz, nyu-; French nüˈɑ̃s/.
  1. a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.
  2. a very slight difference or variation in color or tone.
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Origin of nuance

1775–85; < French: shade, hue, equivalent to nu(er) to shade (literally, to cloud < Vulgar Latin *nūbāre, derivative of *nūba, for Latin nūbēs cloud) + -ance -ance
Related formsnu·anced, adjectiveun·nu·anced, adjective

Synonyms

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1. subtlety, nicety, hint, refinement.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nuances

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He was a stickler for the nuances of behaviour, especially in women.

    Painted Veils

    James Huneker

  • It is short, pregnant—what is to follow is incorporated in its nuances.

    Iconoclasts

    James Huneker

  • It has been well said that words are inadequate to describe the nuances of taste.

  • "The correspondences of nuances," he sings to his neighbour, who happens to be Whistler.

    Unicorns

    James Huneker

  • In spite of the shock, the newness, Dr. Stern was sensitive to nuances.

    West Of The Sun

    Edgar Pangborn


British Dictionary definitions for nuances

nuance

noun
  1. a subtle difference in colour, meaning, tone, etc; a shade or graduation
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verb (tr; passive)
  1. to give subtle differences tocarefully nuanced words
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Word Origin

C18: from French, from nuer to show light and shade, ultimately from Latin nūbēs a cloud
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for nuances

nuance

v.

1886, from nuance (n.). Related: Nuanced.

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nuance

n.

1781, from French nuance "slight difference, shade of color" (17c.), from nuer "to shade," from nue "cloud," from Gallo-Romance *nuba, from Latin nubes "a cloud, mist, vapor," from PIE *sneudh- "fog" (cf. Avestan snaoda "clouds," Latin obnubere "to veil," Welsh nudd "fog," Greek nython, in Hesychius "dark, dusky"). According to Klein, a reference to "the different colors of the clouds."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nuances in Culture

nuance

[(nooh-ahns)]

A fine shade of meaning: “I liked the film, but I know I missed some of its nuances.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.