Etymology
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brilliancy (n.)

"quality of being brilliant," 1747; see brilliant + abstract noun suffix -cy. Also compare brilliance.

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brilliance (n.)

"quality of being brilliant," 1755, from brilliant + -ance. The figurative sense (of wit, intelligence, etc.) is from 1779. Distinguished from brilliancy in that the latter usually is applied to things measurable in degrees.

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bravura (n.)

1788, "a spirited, florid piece of music requiring great skill in the performer," from Italian bravura "bravery, spirit" (see brave (adj.)). The sense of "display of brilliancy, dash" is from 1813.

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dazzle (v.)

late 15c., "be stupefied, be confused" (a sense now obsolete), frequentative of Middle English dasen "be stunned, be bewildered" (see daze (v.)). Originally intransitive; the transitive sense of "overpower with strong or excessive light" is from 1530s. The figurative sense of "overpower or excite admiration by brilliancy or showy display" is from 1560s. As a noun, "brightness, splendor," 1650s. Related: Dazzled; dazzling.

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magnitude (n.)

c. 1400, "pre-eminence, magnificence;" early 15c., "greatness of size or extent," from Latin magnitudo "greatness, bulk, size," from magnus "great" (from suffixed form of PIE root *meg- "great") + -tudo, suffix forming abstract nouns from adjectives and participles (see -tude).

Meaning "size, extent," whether great or small is from early 15c. Of stars, "brightness or brilliancy expressed as a number" (now on a logarithmic scale) from 1640s, translating Ptolemy's Greek megethos.

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flash (n.1)

1560s, "sudden burst of flame or light," from flash (v.); originally of lightning. Figuratively (of wit, laughter, anger, etc.) from c. 1600. Meaning "period occupied by a flash, very short time" is from 1620s. Sense of "superficial brilliancy" is from 1670s. Meaning "first news report" is from 1857. The comic book character dates to 1940. Meaning "photographic lamp" is from 1913. Flash cube (remember those?) is from 1965.

Flash in the pan (1704 literal, 1705 figurative) is from old-style firearms, where the powder might ignite in the pan but fail to spark the main charge; hence figurative sense "brilliant outburst followed by failure."

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luster (n.1)

"gloss, radiance, quality of shining by reflecting light," 1520s, from French lustre "gloss, radiance" (14c.), common Romanic (cognates: Spanish and Portuguese lustre, Rumanian lustru, Italian lustro "splendor, brilliancy"), a noun ultimately from Latin lustrare "spread light over, brighten, illumine," which is related to lustrum "purification" (from PIE *leuk-stro-, suffixed form of root *leuk- "light, brightness").

Especially "quality of glossiness or radiance in a textile material or fabric." Figurative meaning "radiant beauty" is from c. 1600; that of "splendor, renown" is from 1550s. Lusterware, also lustre-ware, "stoneware or crockery having surface ornamentations in metallic colors," is attested by 1820.

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kermes (n.)

c. 1600, "shield louse (Coccus ilicis) that yields a red dye" (1590s of the tree on which the insects live), from Medieval Latin cremesinus (also source of French kermès, Italian chermes, Spanish carmes), from Arabic qirmiz "kermes," from Sanskrit krmi-ja a compound meaning "(red dye) produced by a worm."

The Sanskrit compound is krmih "worm" (from PIE root *kwrmi- "worm," source also of Lithuanian kirmis, Old Irish cruim, Albanian krimp "worm") + -ja- "produced" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). The insect lives in the Levant and southern Europe on a species of small evergreen oak (kermes oak) and in ancient Europe were the main source of red and scarlet dye. The dye is prepared from the dried bodies of pregnant females, which alive resemble small roundish grains about the size of peas and cling immobile to the tree on which they live. From this fact kermes dye was, for a long time, mistaken as being from a seed or excrescence of the tree, and the word for it in Greek was kokkos, literally "a grain, seed" (see cocco-). This was passed to Latin as coccum, coccus "berry [sic] yielding scarlet dye," in late use "scarlet color, scarlet garment."

So important was kermes (coccus) as a commercial source of scarlet dye that derivatives of the name for it have displaced the original word for "red" in many languages, such as Welsh coch (from Latin), Modern Greek kokkinos. Also compare Russian čcermnyj "purple-red," Old Church Slavonic čruminu. Compare also crimson (n.).

Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York, but the use of kermes dyes seems to have been lost in Europe from the Dark Ages until early 15c. It fell out of use again with the introduction of cochineal (the word for which itself might be from coccus) from the New World.

Cloths dyed with kermes are of a deep red colour; and though much inferior in brilliancy to the scarlet cloths dyed with real Mexican cochineal, they retain the colour better and are less liable to stain. The tapestries of Brussels and other parts of Flanders, which have scarcely lost any thing of their original brilliancy, even after a lapse of 200 years, were all dyed with kermes. [W.T. Brande, "Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art," London, 1842]
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shade (n.)

Middle English shade, schade, Kentish ssed, "dark image cast by someone or something; comparative obscurity or gloom caused by the blockage of light," 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 are from Proto-Germanic *skadwaz (source also of Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch scade, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German Schatten, Gothic skadus), from PIE *skot-wo-, from root *skoto- "dark, shade." 

shade, shadow, nn. It seems that the difference in form is fairly to be called an accidental one, the first representing the nominative & the second the oblique cases of the same word. The meanings are as closely parallel or intertwined as might be expected from this original identity, the wonder being that, with a differentiation so vague, each form should have maintained its existence by the side of the other. [Fowler]

Figurative use in reference to comparative obscurity is from 1640s. Hence throw into the shade, etc., "obscure by contrast or superior brilliancy." The 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" is recorded by 1845. The meaning "cover to protect the eyes" is from 1801. Meaning "grade of color" is recorded from 1680s; that of "degree or gradation of darkness in a color" is from 1680s (compare nuance, from French nue "cloud"). Meaning "small amount or degree" is from 1749.

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