General English


  • noun the smoothness and polish characteristic of a new ball, which is gradually impaired as the ball repeatedly hits the ground and is struck by the batsmen
    Citation ‘May joined Graveney, and both batsmen exercised due caution until the shine was lessened’ (Peebles 1959)
    Citation ‘The greatest of fast bowlers needs the support of comparable fire at the other end … especially while the shine is still on the ball’ (Manley 1988)


  • noun a black person. This now dated, usually pejorative term from the early 20th century (used by Raymond Chandler among others when describing the Los Angeles low-life of the 1940s) is still occasionally heard. The origin of this usage is obscure; it may be inspired by the appearance of black skin or contrasting white teeth, or may even be a shortening of ‘shoe-shine’.
  • verb to snub, reject. The term is probably a back-formation of the earlier shined-on.

Origin & History of “shine”

Shine and its Germanic relatives, German scheinen, Dutch schijnen, Swedish skina, and Danish skinne, go back to a prehistoric *skīnan. This was derived from *ski-, a base which also produced English sheer and shimmer (sheen, despite its similarity, is not connected). other descendants of this base were Greek skiā́ ‘shadow’ and skēnḗ ‘tent’ (source of English scene); the semantic link between the rather unlikely bedfellows ‘shining’ and ‘shadow’ is held to be ‘faint light’.