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, "How did this rare pink manta get its color?," 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, "The Top Ten Scientific Discoveries of the Decade," 6 May 2012 Tree kangaroos show countershading, Holtz says, and the forest-dwelling raccoon dogs wear color patterns much like Sinosauropteryx. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "This Adorable Bandit-Faced Dinosaur Will Steal Your Heart," 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, "This Dinosaur Wore Camouflage," 14 Sep. 2016 A beautifully colored dinosaur fossil is the first to show evidence of countershading, a type of camouflage. National Geographic, "This Dinosaur Wore Camouflage," 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.

See More

First Known Use of countershading

1896, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for countershading

Cite this Entry

“Countershading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jul. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on countershading Encyclopedia article about countershading

Comments on countershading

What made you want to look up countershading? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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