[Ads-l] Antedating Shade, was: New Mexican Spanish fading

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 10 20:30:58 UTC 2023

Excellent cites, Bill.
Here is another early citation which occurred a week after the April
18, 1989 citation you list. "The Advocate" of Los Angeles published an
article about Harvey Milk High School in New York City which included
the phrase "throwing shade" with the desired modern sense.

Date: April 25, 1989
Periodical: The Advocate
Periodical Location: Los Angeles, California
Article: A Light In the Blackboard Jungle
Author: Peter Freiberg
Start Page 50, Quote Page 52
Database: ProQuest

[Begin excerpt]
When New York City’s Harvey Milk School (HMS) opened its doors in the
spring of 1985, it was greeted with a burst of worldwide publicity. A
front-page article in The New York Times, describing the nation's
first high school for lesbian and gay students, drew hordes of
reporters to the Greenwich Village church where the small group of
students and one teacher were holding their first classes.
. . .
Whenever "throwing shade"--the kids' term for a verbal
put-down--occurs, the teachers reaffirm that homophobic, racist, and
sexist insults will not be tolerated. To help deal with issues of
self-esteem, says Hunter, an institute counselor is assigned to meet
with each student at least once a week.
[End excerpt]

The OED 1990 citation is from the documentary "Paris Is Burning".
Wikipedia says it was filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, and it
“documents the origins of 'voguing'".


[Begin Wikipedia excerpt]
The film explains how words such as house, mother, shade, reading and
legendary gain new meaning when used in novel ways to describe the gay
and drag subculture.
[End Wikipedia excerpt]

[Begin excerpt from OED]
shade, n.
U.S. slang (originally in African-American usage). Contempt,
disapproval, or disrespect, esp. when expressed obliquely. Chiefly in
to throw shade: to express contempt or disapproval; often with at or

Originally associated with the drag culture of Harlem, New York City
in the late 1980s; see quots. 1990, 1997.

1990 Paris is Burning (1991) (transcribed from film) Shade is I don't
tell you you're ugly, but I don't have to tell you because you know
you're ugly and that's shade.
[End excerpt from OED]

On Mon, Apr 10, 2023 at 3:35 PM Bill Mullins <amcombill at hotmail.com> wrote:
> The referenced New Yorker article dates "shade" to ca. 1990; the OED has 1990.
> 1989 [Regina SK Canada] Leader-Post 29 Jul 14/4
> At some nightclubs, Voguers compete for prizes trying to outdo each other, or as they say, "throw some shade" on their opponents.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/497028582/?terms=%22throw%20shade%22&match=1
> 1989 [London UK] Evening Standard 18 Apr 31/1
> Throw shade ... Pose aggressively at a rival voguer.
> https://www.newspapers.com/image/722452932/?terms=%22throw%20shade%22&match=1
> These early cites seem to suggest that the term arises from gay subculture rather than African American English.
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Sent: Monday, April 10, 2023 10:03 AM
> Subject: Re: New Mexican Spanish fading
> Saw that this morning, and this yesterday:
> https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/03/27/assembling-the-oxford-dictionary-of-african-american-english
> (As always, I'm several New Yorkers behind...)
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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