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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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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

hint, subtlety, gradation, nicety, refinement, distinction, implication, degree, shade, trace, dash, suspicion, suggestion, touch, shadow, tinge

Examples from the Web for nuance

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There was a nuance of profound bewilderment in her exclamation.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • They do not understand me; the big noisy boors do not understand rhythm or nuance.

    Melomaniacs

    James Huneker

  • He was the master of the nuance, and the nuance was his lyricism, his special gift, his genius.

    Adventures in the Arts

    Marsden Hartley

  • Of course I don't expect you, just at first, to feel the difference, to see the nuance.

    The Reef

    Edith Wharton

  • The sand is fine as face powder, nuance Rachel, packed hard.


British Dictionary definitions for nuance

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 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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v.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nuance 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.