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noun hol·low \ˈhä-(ˌ)lō\

Simple Definition of hollow

  • : a place or area (especially on the ground) that is lower than the area around it

  • : an empty space inside of something

Full Definition of hollow

  1. 1 :  an unfilled space :  cavity, hole

  2. 2 :  a depressed or low part of a surface; especially :  a small valley or basin

Examples of hollow

  1. The owls nested in the hollow of a tree.

  2. <made a little hollow in her mound of mashed potatoes and filled it with gravy>

Origin of hollow

Middle English holw, holh, from Old English holh hole, hollow — more at hole

First Known Use: before 12th century



adjective hol·low

Simple Definition of hollow

  • : having nothing inside : not solid

  • : curved inward or down

  • : not having real value or meaning

Full Definition of hollow

hol·low·er play \ˈhä-lə-wər\ hol·low·est play \-lə-wəst\

  1. 1 :  having an indentation or inward curve :  concave, sunken

  2. 2 :  having a cavity within <a hollow tree>

  3. 3 :  lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance :  false, meaningless <hollow promises> <a victory over a weakling is hollow and without triumph — Ernest Beaglehole>

  4. 4 :  reverberating like a sound made in or by beating on a large empty enclosure :  muffled

hol·low·ly play \ˈhä-lō-lē, -lə-lē\ adverb
hol·low·ness noun

Examples of hollow

  1. There was a hollow spot in the field.

  2. <there's a noticeably hollow spot in the mattress where he has been sleeping>

Origin of hollow

Middle English holw, holh, from holh hole

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of hollow

vain, nugatory, otiose, idle, empty, hollow mean being without worth or significance. vain implies either absolute or relative absence of value <vain promises>. nugatory suggests triviality or insignificance <a monarch with nugatory powers>. otiose suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity <a film without a single otiose scene>. idle suggests being incapable of worthwhile use or effect <idle speculations>. empty and hollow suggest a deceiving lack of real substance or soundness or genuineness <an empty attempt at reconciliation> <a hollow victory>.

Rhymes with hollow



verb hol·low

Simple Definition of hollow

  • : to remove the inside of (something)

Full Definition of hollow

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to make hollow

  3. 2 :  to form by a hollowing action —usually used with out <rain barrels hollowed out from trees — Robert Shaplen>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to become hollow

Examples of hollow

  1. They hollowed the log to make a canoe.

15th Century

First Known Use of hollow

15th century



adverb hol·low

Definition of hollow

  1. 1 :  so as to have a hollow sound

  2. 2 :  completely, thoroughly <an ongoing story that has the old cowboy-and-Indians genre beat hollow — Barbara Bannon> —often used with all


First Known Use of hollow


Medical Dictionary


noun hol·low \ˈhäl-(ˌ)ō, -ə(-w)\

Medical Definition of hollow

  1. :  a depressed part of a surface or a concavity <the hollow at the back of the knee>

Seen and Heard

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February 9, 2016

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