cast/put someone in/into the shade, to make another person's efforts seem insignificant by comparison; surpass: Her playing puts mine in the shade.
    throw shade, Slang. to insult, criticize, or disrespect a person or thing in an indirect, artful manner:He threw some shade at his former boss.

Origin of shade

before 900; 1960–65 for def 29; (noun) Middle English s(c)hade, Old English sceadu (see shadow); cognate with German Schatten, Gothic skadus, Greek skótos; (v.) Middle English schaden, derivative of the noun
Related formsshade·less, adjectiveshade·less·ness, nounin·ter·shade, verb (used with object), in·ter·shad·ed, in·ter·shad·ing.sem·i·shade, nounun·shade, verb (used with object), un·shad·ed, un·shad·ing.
Can be confusedcolor hue shade tint

Synonyms for shade

Synonym study

1. Shade, shadow imply partial darkness or something less bright than the surroundings. Shade indicates the lesser brightness and heat of an area where the direct rays of light do not fall: the shade of a tree. It differs from shadow in that it implies no particular form or definite limit, whereas shadow often refers to the form or outline of the object that intercepts the light: the shadow of a dog. 15. See curtain.

Antonyms for shade

Regional variation note

3. See window shade. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shade

Contemporary Examples of shade

Historical Examples of shade

  • Fortunately the day had been remarkably cool, almost cold, the thermometer only rose to 80° in the shade.

  • While so engaged, he happened to turn his eye on a couple, who stood a little apart, beneath the shade of an old yew tree.

    Trevethlan: Volume 1

    William Davy Watson

  • I write these concluding lines on a rock, under the shade of a tree on the banks of the island.

  • He felt himself growing a shade paler under the weather worn bronze of his face.

  • He bowed to their sweet nearness; he kissed them again and again, while the shade of the cedars seemed to whirl about him.

British Dictionary definitions for shade



relative darkness produced by the blocking out of light
a place made relatively darker or cooler than other areas by the blocking of light, esp sunlight
a position of relative obscurity
something used to provide a shield or protection from a direct source of light, such as a lampshade
a darker area indicated in a painting, drawing, etc, by shading
a colour that varies slightly from a standard colour due to a difference in hue, saturation, or luminositya darker shade of green
a slight amounta shade of difference
literary a ghost
an archaic word for shadow
put in the shade to appear better than (another); surpass

verb (mainly tr)

to screen or protect from heat, light, view, etc
to make darker or dimmer
to represent (a darker area) in (a painting, drawing, etc), by means of hatching, using a darker colour, etc
(also intr) to change or cause to change slightly
to lower (a price) slightly
Derived Formsshadeless, adjective

Word Origin for shade

Old English sceadu; related to Gothic skadus, Old High German skato, Old Irish scāth shadow, Greek skotos darkness, Swedish skäddä fog
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 shade

Middle English schade, Kentish ssed, from late Old English scead "partial darkness; shelter, protection," also partly from sceadu "shade, shadow, darkness; shady place, arbor, protection from glare or heat," both from Proto-Germanic *skadwaz (cf. Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch scade, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German Schatten, Gothic skadus), from PIE *skot-wo-, from root *skot- "dark, shade" (cf. Greek skotos "darkness, gloom," Albanian kot "darkness," Old Irish scath, Old Welsh scod, Breton squeut "darkness," Gaelic sgath "shade, shadow, shelter").

Figurative use in reference to comparative obscurity is from 1640s. Meaning "a ghost" is from 1610s; dramatic (or mock-dramatic) expression "shades of _____" to invoke or acknowledge a memory is from 1818, from the "ghost" sense. Meaning "lamp cover" is from 1780. Sense of "window blind" first recorded 1845. Meaning "cover to protect the eyes" is from 1801. Meaning "grade of color" first recorded 1680s; that of "degree or gradiation of darkness in a color" is from 1680s (cf. nuance, from French nue "cloud"). Meaning "small amount or degree" is from 1782.


c.1400, "to screen from light or heat," from shade (n.). From 1520s as "to cast a shadow over;" figurative use in this sense from 1580s. Sense in painting and drawing is from 1797. In reference to colors, 1819. Related: Shaded; shading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper