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  • Noun




Marcello could tell by the slight change or nuance in Maxine’s tone of voice that she was annoyed with him. She usually kissed his cheek warmly when he helped her with her coat, but tonight Maxine pecked his cheek with a little less warmth than usual, an uncharacteristic nuance or shift. Maxine had a slight edge in her voice as they chatted over dinner; Marcello realized that this small difference or nuance in her tone must mean something, but he just couldn’t figure out what. Her social nuances or implied shades of meaning this evening were just too fine to understand.

Quiz: What is an example of a nuance?

  • An accidental meeting between two people that leads to a lifelong friendship.
  • A brightly colored painting that stands out in a room painted entirely white.
  • A slight change in pitch that a singer deliberately makes during a song.

Memory Hook

New Stance Each time that Jayme reread the poem, she discovered yet another subtle nuance that gave the deeply layered poem yet another expressive new stance, adding to its already profound meaning.


  • Statistical tampering such as seasonal adjustments, owner’s equivalent rent in place of actual home prices, the stripping out of energy and fresh foods and many other nuances can all be used to manipulate reported inflation. —The Economist
  • Some of the blame for the death of nuance must be laid to the mindless divisiveness of those cable news outlets that treat politics as a blood sport. —The Washington Post
  • Google’s apparent success suggests that a new approach to translation — fancy math rather than linguistic know-how — may be the way forward in a field that has struggled with the nuance and ambiguity of human language. —The Christian Science Monitor
  • 'Frankly, even though I realize I'm a public figure, I don’t think I need to go into every nuance of my private life,' the 73-year-old Olson said at a televised 48-minute news conference at McKale Center. —Sports Illustrated

Word Ingredients

nu cloud, haze
-ance state or condition

As “clouds” create “shade,” so too does a nuance indicate a subtle “shade” of meaning.

Word Theater

Star Trek The Next Generation Data assures her that the nuances she is worrying about were far from obvious.

Word Constellation