nuance (n.)

"slight or delicate degree of difference in expression, feeling, opinion, etc.," 1781, from French nuance "slight difference, shade of color" (17c.), from nuer "to shade," from nue "cloud," from Gallo-Roman *nuba, from Latin nubes "a cloud, mist, vapor," from PIE *sneudh- "fog" (source also of Avestan snaoda "clouds," Latin obnubere "to veil," Welsh nudd "fog," Greek nython, in Hesychius "dark, dusky").

According to Klein, the French secondary sense is a reference to "the different colors of the clouds." In reference to color or tone, "a slight variation in shade," by 1852; of music, by 1841 as a French term in English.

nuance (v.)

"to give nuances to," 1886, from nuance (n.). Related: Nuanced.

updated on July 22, 2019