Intermediate+ Word of the Day: shine

shine (verb, noun) /ʃaɪn/ LISTEN

To shine means ‘to glow with light’ or ‘to be bright with reflected light.’ If you shine something at someone or something, it means that you direct the light of it towards that person or thing. Figuratively, if you do very well at something, we say you shine and we also say that if you look particularly lively and happy. To polish shoes is also to shine. As a noun, the brightness caused by light or its reflection is called a shine and so is the act of polishing shoes.

Example sentences

  • The sun is shining brightly in the sky.
  • The woman's jewels shone under the bright lights of the ballroom.
  • Gary shone the flashlight at the noise he heard coming from the bushes.
  • Fiona really shines at music.
  • Simon is positively shining these days; I think he must be in love.
  • Caroline is shining her shoes.
  • The shine of the glass was dazzling.
  • I have a job interview tomorrow, so I'd better give my shoes a shine.

Words often used with shine

come rain or shine: whatever the weather. Example: “Rob goes for a run every morning, come rain or shine.” This expression can also be used figuratively to mean ‘whatever the circumstances.’ Example: “Good friends are always there for each other, come rain or shine.”

take shine to someone: take a liking to. Example: “I think the new guy we hired has taken a shine to you; he was talking about you all the way through lunch.”

In pop culture

You can listen to B B King and Eric Clapton singing “Come Rain or Shine” here (the lyrics are also available below the video):


Additional information

A shiner, in US English slang, is a black eye, probably because the swollen, discolored skin around the eye can look a bit shiny. This meaning of the term appeared around the beginning of the 20th century, but the word itself has been around since the 14th century, when it simply meant ‘something that shines.’

Did you know?

Sunshine is the shining of the sun. British-American band Katrina and the Waves brought out a song called “Walking on Sunshine” in 1985. You can listen to it here:

We think Katrina and the Waves must have liked the word shine, as they also had a hit with their winning Eurovision Song Contest entry “Love Shine a Light” in 1997.

Other forms

shiny (adjective)


Shine dates back to before the year 900. The Old English verb scīnan (pronounced schee-nan), and later the Middle English s(c)hinen (pronounced shee-nen) meant ‘to shed light or illuminate’ and ‘to be radiant or resplendent;’ additionally, when talking about people, it could mean ‘be conspicuous.’ It can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic verb skinan, which probably came from the Proto-Indo-European root skai- (to shine or gleam). It is related to the Old Saxon and Old High German skinan, the Old Norse and Old Frisian skina, the Dutch schijnen, the German scheinen and the Gothic skeinan, all of which mean ‘to shine,’ as well as ‘to appear.’ The transitive meaning, ‘to polish (shoes),’ dates back to the early 17th century. The noun comes from the verb, and first appeared in the early 16th century, meaning ‘brightness.’ The meaning ‘polish given to shoes’ dates back to the mid-19th century.

Shine was suggested by Ronan, from Brazil.

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