"Throw shade" means the exact opposite of what I think it should.

Am I alone on this?

To my mind, “throw shade” sounds like you’re trying to provide cover for a certain individual.

I always have to do a double take when I hear that term.

Do you live in a really hot area? Because to me it seems more like you are blocking the sunshine from the individual.

shade = shady

Throw shade = casting shady doubts onto someone

I do, and I’m with the OP - shade is a good thing.

I thought it meant to overshadow something, to tower over it and leave it in obscurity, like a skyscraper next to a little hovel.

Surely it depends upon the context? Compare

I’m throwing shade on the begonias.


Alice was throwing shade on Belinda’s business dealings.


Eric was throwing shade for Francine’s absence.

Alice? I think you mean Karen. That bitch.

Two different sources give similar accounts of the phrase. Whether both sources come from the same people or just reach the same conclusion, I don’t know. “Shade” is a kind of insult or disparagement that relies on everybody being able to see that the insult is true. Apparently the use of “throw” is like the use of “hurl an insult”. My guess that it related to throwing a shadow was a complete misread.

When I first heard the term, I thought exactly this. And reading for context I’d be like, wait a minute, what? Now I get it, but it seems to have become a term that is widely misused. Throwing shade is supposed to be kind of vaguely insulting (or, you know, shady), but people use it to describe flat out insults. So, I avoid using it all together.

I have always lagged behind in my awareness of pop slang and just started hearing this one in the last few years.

The thing to remember about slang is it doesn’t have to make sense. Thirty years ago I started hearing (and still hear) “sick” for “cool” or “awesome.” I still learn new slang from my kids all the time that has no logical etymology.

And shouldn’t “clap back” mean reciprocating applause?

And if my gf is going to peg me she’d better be using tent stakes!

That’s exactly what I thought the first few times I heard it, and even the first time I used it.

Then we will peg in the shade!

Do not google this.

‘Selfie’ should be a shorthand (so to speak) for autoeroticism, and a ‘selfie stick’ should be a dildo or vibrator.

‘Doing a solid’ should be taking a shit.


I would have assumed it was a modern slang version of ‘taking umbrage’ with someone. Etymologically related to ‘umbrella’ too, making it appropriate for Rihanna in that above link.

Come on, old people! Shade is a natural evolution from shine. When some entity is doing well it’s shining; shading or “throwing shade” prevents my shine from being observed. Sheesh! By the by, I also speak jive.

Right, if you were going to make a list of slang that makes sense without context or explanation and another list of slang that requires explanation, I’d imagine the list of no explanation is needed would be much shorter.

It sounds a lot better than “do me a liquid”!

Or “do me a gas”.