coun·​ter·​shad·​ing | \ ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌshā-diŋ How to pronounce countershading (audio) \

Definition of countershading

: cryptic coloration of an animal with parts normally in shadow being light and parts normally illuminated being dark thereby reducing shadows and contours

Examples of countershading in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The latter, which is most common, features a pattern called countershading, in which the fish has a black back and a white belly. National Geographic, 11 Feb. 2020 The study of fossilized pigments has continued to expose new information about prehistoric life, hinting at potential animal survival strategies by showing evidence of countershading and camouflage. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 May 2012 Tree kangaroos show countershading, Holtz says, and the forest-dwelling raccoon dogs wear color patterns much like Sinosauropteryx. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, 26 Oct. 2017 Modern-day predators rely on an object’s shading to assess its shape, Vinther explains, and when prey is darker on top than on the bottom, a color scheme known as countershading, shadows are minimized and the animals look flatter. National Geographic, 14 Sep. 2016 A beautifully colored dinosaur fossil is the first to show evidence of countershading, a type of camouflage. National Geographic, 14 Sep. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'countershading.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of countershading

1896, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About countershading

Time Traveler for countershading

Time Traveler

The first known use of countershading was in 1896

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near countershading




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for countershading

Cite this Entry

“Countershading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on countershading Encyclopedia article about countershading


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!