adjective, shad·i·er, shad·i·est.

abounding in shade; shaded: shady paths.
giving shade: a shady tree.
shadowy; indistinct; spectral.
of dubious character; rather disreputable: shady dealings.


    on the shady side of, Informal. beyond (the specified age); more than: on the shady side of 40.

Origin of shady

First recorded in 1570–80; shade + -y1
Related formsshad·i·ly, adverbshad·i·ness, nounun·shad·i·ly, adverbun·shad·i·ness, nounun·shad·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shady

Contemporary Examples of shady

Historical Examples of shady

  • His whole appearance was suggestive of the shady side of life.


    W. A. Fraser

  • His carriage was awaiting him in a shady corner of the Binnenhof.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • She looked so cool and restful in her white frock and shady hat.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • On several occasions the Coupeaus fancied they saw her in some shady dive.


    Emile Zola

  • Her own room was on the shady side where pots of mignonette died within a week.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for shady


adjective shadier or shadiest

full of shade; shaded
affording or casting a shade
dim, quiet, or concealed
informal dubious or questionable as to honesty or legality
Derived Formsshadily, adverbshadiness, noun
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 shady

"affording shade," 1570s; "protected by shade," 1590s; from shade (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "disreputable" (1862) probably is from earlier university slang sense of "of questionable merit, unreliable" (1848). Related: Shadily; shadiness. Old English had sceadlic "shady, 'shadely.'"

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper