a slight variation or difference of color, character, etc.
the act of a person or thing that shades.
the representation of the different values of color or light and dark in a painting or drawing.

Origin of shading

First recorded in 1605–15; shade + -ing1




the comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area.
a place or an area of comparative darkness, as one sheltered from the sun.
a lampshade.
  1. darkness gathering at the close of day: Shades of night are falling.
  2. Informal.sunglasses.
  3. a reminder of something: shades of the Inquisition.
Usually shades. a secluded or obscure place: He was living in the shades.
comparative obscurity.
a specter or ghost.
Greek and Roman Religion. one of the spirits of the dead inhabiting Hades.
a shadow.
the degree of darkness of a color, determined by the quantity of black or by the lack of illumination.
comparative darkness, as the effect of shadow or dark and light, in pictorial representation; the dark part, or a dark part, of a picture or drawing.
a slight variation or degree: a shade of difference.
a little bit; touch, especially of something that may change the color of or lighten or darken something else: coffee with a shade of cream.
anything used for protection against excessive light, heat, etc.
(in architectural shades and shadows) a shadow upon those parts of a solid that are tangent to or turned away from the parallel rays from the theoretical light source.Compare shadow(def 11).
the shades, Hades, as the abode of the spirits of the dead.

verb (used with object), shad·ed, shad·ing.

to produce shade in or on.
to obscure, dim, or darken.
to screen or hide from view.
to protect (something) from light, heat, etc., by or as by a screen: to shade the eyes from a bright light.
to cover or screen (a candle, light, etc.): to shade a light to protect the eyes.
Fine Arts.
  1. to introduce degrees of darkness into (a drawing or painting) in order to render light and shadow or give the effect of color.
  2. to render the values of light and dark in (a drawn figure, object, etc.), especially in order to create the illusion of three-dimensionality.
to change by imperceptible degrees into something else.
to reduce (the price) by way of a concession.
Slang. to insult, criticize, or disrespect (a person or thing) in an indirect, artful manner: He got into a fight with someone who shaded his mom.

verb (used without object), shad·ed, shad·ing.

to pass or change by slight graduations, as one color, quality, or thing into another.

Verb Phrases

shade up, Agriculture. to take shelter (as livestock) from the sun.


    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 shading

Contemporary Examples of shading

Historical Examples of shading

  • "It is the Seneschal of Toulouse, with his following," said Johnston, shading his eyes with his hand.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • "I can also see it," said Alleyne, shading his eyes with his hand.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He bade her follow him; and, shading the light with his hand, crept up the stairs.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The hand did duty now for a moment, shading his eyes from the light.

  • The man sat up, and shading his eyes with his hand peered at us.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for shading



the graded areas of tone, lines, dots, etc, indicating light and dark in a painting or drawing



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 shading



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