Middle English shinen, from Old English scinan "shed, send forth, or give out light; be radiant, be resplendent, illuminate," of persons, "be conspicuous" (class I strong verb; past tense scan, past participle scinen). This is reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *skeinanan (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German skinan, Old Norse and Old Frisian skina, Dutch schijnen, German scheinen, Gothic skeinan "to shine, appear"), which perhaps is from a PIE root *skai- "to shine, to gleam" (source also of Old Church Slavonic sinati "to flash up, shine").
Of smoothed or polished surfaces, "gleam, give off reflected light," late Old English. Of a person, a face, "be fair-skinned, be beautiful," c. 1200. Also used in Middle English of night when cloudless and starlit. The transitive sense of "cause to shine" is from 1580s; the meaning "to black (boots)" is from 1610s. Related: Shined (in the shoe polish sense), otherwise shone; shining.
1520s, "brightness, radiance," from shine (v.). Indicating "sunshine," and paired with rain (n.), from 1620s. Meaning "polish given to a pair of boots" is from 1871.
For the American English slang meaning "a prank, a trick," see monkey-shines. Often also "a fancy, a liking," as in phrases such as take a shine to, "fancy," attested by 1830 in representations of Yankee dialect; shine up to "attempt to please as a suitor by making a brilliant impression" (1882).
The derogatory meaning "black person" is attested by 1908, perhaps from glossiness of skin or, on another guess, from frequent employment as shoeshines.
updated on December 06, 2022