coun·​ter·​shad·​ing ˈkau̇n-tər-ˌshā-diŋ How to pronounce countershading (audio)
: 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 Kaye, Pittman and others revealed that the dinosaur’s topside was darker than its underside and tail; a physical feature called ‘countershading’ and associated with camouflage in modern animals. Jon Tennant, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2016 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'countershading.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1896, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of countershading was in 1896

Dictionary Entries Near countershading

Cite this Entry

“Countershading.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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