-noun 1. the comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area. 2. a place or an area of comparative dar…kness, as one sheltered from the sun. 3. window shade. 4. a lampshade. 5. shades, a. darkness gathering at the close of day: Shades of night are falling. b. Slang. sunglasses. c. a reminder of something: shades of the Inquisition. 6. Usually, shades. a secluded or obscure place: He was living in the shades. 7. comparative obscurity. 8. a specter or ghost. 9. Greek and Roman Religion. one of the spirits of the dead inhabiting Hades. 10. a shadow. 11. the degree of darkness of a color, determined by the quantity of black or by the lack of illumination. 12. 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. 13. a slight variation or degree: a shade of difference. 14. a little bit; touch, esp. of something that may change the color of or lighten or darken something else: coffee with a shade of cream. 15. anything used for protection against excessive light, heat, etc. 16. (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). 17. the shades, Hades, as the abode of the spirits of the dead. -verb (used with object) 18. to produce shade in or on. 19. to obscure, dim, or darken. 20. to screen or hide from view. 21. to protect (something) from light, heat, etc., by or as by a screen: to shade the eyes from a bright light. 22. to cover or screen (a candle, light, etc.): to shade a light to protect the eyes. 23. Fine Arts. a. to introduce degrees of darkness into (a drawing or painting) in order to render light and shadow or give the effect of color. b. to render the values of light and dark in (a drawn figure, object, etc.), esp. in order to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. 24. to change by imperceptible degrees into something else. 25. to reduce (the price) by way of a concession. -verb (used without object) 26. to pass or change by slight graduations, as one color, quality, or thing into another. -Verb phrase 27. Agriculture. shade up, to take shelter (as livestock) from the sun. -Idiom 28. cast or put someone in or into the shade, to make another person's efforts seem insignificant by comparison; surpass: Her playing puts mine in the shade..
[Origin: bef. 900; 1960-65 for def. 28; (n.) ME s ( c ) hade, OE sceadu (see shadow); c. G Schatten, Goth skadus, Gk skÃ³tos; (v.) ME schaden, deriv. of the n.].