"plant of the genus solanum," with white flowers and black poisonous berries, Middle English night-shade, from Old English nihtscada, literally "shade of night," perhaps in allusion to the berries; see night + shade (n.). A common Germanic compound, cognates: Dutch nachtschade, German Nachtschatten.
Entries linking to nightshade
late Old English niht (West Saxon neaht, Anglian næht, neht) "the dark part of a day; the night as a unit of time; darkness," also "absence of spiritual illumination, moral darkness, ignorance," from Proto-Germanic *nahts (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German naht, Old Frisian and Dutch nacht, German Nacht, Old Norse natt, Gothic nahts).
The Germanic words are from PIE *nekwt- "night" (source also of Greek nyx "a night," Latin nox, Old Irish nochd, Sanskrit naktam "at night," Lithuanian naktis "night," Old Church Slavonic nosti, Russian noch', Welsh henoid "tonight"), according to Watkins, probably from a verbal root *neg- "to be dark, be night." For spelling with -gh- see fight. The vowel indicates that the modern English word derives from oblique cases (genitive nihte, dative niht).
The fact that the Aryans have a common name for night, but not for day (q.v.), is due to the fact that they reckoned by nights. [Weekley]
Thus in Old English combinations night was "the night before (a certain day or feast day);" compare German Weihnachten "Christmas," literally "holy night." In early times, the day was held to begin at sunset, so Old English monanniht "Monday night" was the night before Monday, or what we would call Sunday night; so saeterniht "Friday night." The Greeks, by contrast, counted their days by mornings.
To work nights preserves the Old English genitive of time. Night soil "excrement" (1770) is so called because it was removed (from cesspools, etc.) after dark. Night train is attested from 1838; night-school from 1520s; night-life "habitual nocturnal carousing" is attested from 1852.
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.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "dark, shade."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek skotos "darkness, gloom;" Albanian kot "darkness;" Old Irish scath, Old Welsh scod, Breton squeut "darkness," Gaelic sgath "shade, shadow, shelter;" Old English scead "partial darkness," sceadu "shade, shadow, darkness," Dutch schaduw, German Schatten, Gothic skadus "shadow."
updated on June 13, 2019