hollow

1 of 4

adjective

hol·​low ˈhä-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce hollow (audio)
hollower ˈhä-lə-wər How to pronounce hollow (audio) ; hollowest ˈhä-lə-wəst How to pronounce hollow (audio)
1
: having an indentation or inward curve : concave, sunken
hollow cheeks
2
: having an unfilled or hollowed-out space within
a hollow tree
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
: reverberating like a sound made in or by beating on a large empty enclosure : muffled
heard a hollow sound when he knocked on the wall
hollowly
ˈhä-lō-lē How to pronounce hollow (audio)
-lə-lē
adverb
hollowness noun

hollow

2 of 4

noun

plural hollows
1
: an unfilled space : cavity, hole
in the hollow of a tree
2
: a depressed or low part of a surface
especially : a small valley or basin

hollow

3 of 4

verb

hollowed; hollowing; hollows

transitive verb

1
: to remove the inside of : to make hollow (see hollow entry 1)
a hollowed tree
hollowing out pumpkins for Halloween
2
: to form by removing the inside of something : to form by making something hollow
usually used with out
rain barrels hollowed out from trees Robert Shaplenhollowing out a tunnel

intransitive verb

: to become hollow
his cheeks had hollowed

hollow

4 of 4

adverb

1
: so as to have a hollow (see hollow entry 1 sense 4) sound
The sound echoed hollow in the cave.
: in a way that reflects a lack of real value, sincerity, or substance
Their threats rang hollow.
2
: completely, thoroughly
often used with all
"… Edward is always real glad to get some of the old farmhouse goodies. He says they beat city cooking all hollow, and so they do." Lucy Maud Montgomery
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

Adjective There was a hollow spot in the field. there's a noticeably hollow spot in the mattress where he has been sleeping Noun The owls nested in the hollow of a tree. made a little hollow in her mound of mashed potatoes and filled it with gravy Verb They hollowed the log to make a canoe.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
For the drive would leave its mark upon him in a way that someone who had not seen those children, blue and hollow under the lake, would never understand. Louise Erdrich, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2022 Over time, his motivations come to seem as hollow and empty as his weapon of choice. Jennifer Wilson, The Atlantic, 7 Nov. 2022 An intended summer of hollow, enjoyable kink is interrupted when, out of nowhere, his theater agent ex-wife Rachel (Claire Danes) drops off his kids (Maxim Swinton’s Solly and Meara Mahoney Gross) for an unscheduled weekend and … vanishes. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Nov. 2022 The voice is uncanny but hollow, too deliberate to convey much more than myriad hours spent studying Diana’s cadence. Leila Latif, Chron, 5 Nov. 2022 Give me more movies like The curse of bridge hollow. Andy Meek, BGR, 15 Oct. 2022 Already, Bernard says, unseen people are falling through the cracks, which makes even an incremental victory seem hollow. Caitlin Gibson, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2022 However, many corporations’ strategies remain hollow and insincere, with some companies promoting LGBTQ solidarity while simultaneously donating to anti-LGBTQ causes or politicians, an example of speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Erica Ciszek, Fortune, 10 Oct. 2022 Donhead House lies in a hollow surrounded by low rolling hills. Joshua Levine, WSJ, 18 Aug. 2022
Noun
The female then builds the nest, scraping out a shallow hollow on the bare ground and shaping it by pressing her body into the depression. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 22 Nov. 2022 The living room was like an igloo with a proud hollow for a fireplace. Bono, Vogue, 5 Nov. 2022 On the night of the flash floods, Vanessa Baker was last seen on her front porch, the place where cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather in the evenings after supper, talking as twilight settled into the hollow. Campbell Robertson Jared Hamilton, New York Times, 29 Oct. 2022 On the night of the flash floods, Vanessa Baker was last seen on her front porch, the place where cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather in the evenings after supper, talking as twilight settled into the hollow. Campbell Robertson, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Oct. 2022 The small one fits neatly into the hollow of the temple. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 26 Oct. 2022 Her husband, then 21, was a moonshiner who owned the only car in the hollow, an Army Jeep. Terence Mcardle, Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2022 Patterson hopes one day a footbridge would link Hopkins Hollow with that trail so people could park or walk their bikes across and find respite in the hollow. Chelsey Lewis, Journal Sentinel, 7 Oct. 2022 Water here comes from a minor aquifer trapped in a volcanic rock hollow: a thirty-five-million-year-old stilled lava capsule. Anna Badkhen, Harper’s Magazine , 28 Sep. 2022
Verb
Otherwise the communities hollow out, and the resorts can’t operate. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, 2 Nov. 2022 Use a spoon or melon baller to hollow out a little hole, taking care not to poke all the way through to the other end. Jais Tollette, USA TODAY, 1 Nov. 2022 Using a firm pumpkin that’s mostly still fresh, cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and hollow out the top and bottom. Karl Schneider, USA TODAY, 1 Nov. 2022 Using a firm pumpkin that’s mostly still fresh, cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and hollow out the top and bottom. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 31 Oct. 2022 Then choose an entrance (ideally one facing away from the wind), and start digging your hole to hollow out the inside. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, 25 Oct. 2022 Stacked pumpkins are a Halloween architectural treat. Choose four pumpkins in graduated sizes, hollow them out, and carve simple geometric shapes into each one. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Oct. 2022 To prepare it, hollow out a loaf of French bread, then fill with breakfast favorites like eggs, sausage, and cheese. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Aug. 2022 While no single case is aimed at overturning Chevron, a string of victories would essentially hollow it out. BostonGlobe.com, 19 June 2022
Adverb
That notion rings hollow to Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands, one of the environmental organizations that originally petitioned to protect fishers in Oregon in 2000. oregonlive, 19 May 2020 But the Iranian government's tendency to point the finger at Washington, or other malicious foreign actors, for unrest at home is ringing hollow now. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, 13 Jan. 2020 This argument rings hollow, since college sports already sit on an uneven playing field. Sean Gregory, Time, 1 Oct. 2019 But the call for peace rings hollow today when the past and future so miss the mark. Lucy Dacus, New York Times, 6 Aug. 2019 Despite all the runs and belting that Khalid can do, his voice rings hollow, an untethered reverberation against slick, genre-melding production. Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2019 The command rings hollow as a packaging slogan, but Smith lays it out there as a pointed provocation, part of the show's larger assertion that acts of nurture and nationhood, art and humanity are profoundly linked. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, 3 July 2018 The idea that these laws are intended to make women and children safer rings hollow. Willie Parker, Glamour, 5 Apr. 2018 And some say his compassion for those affected by Harvey rings hollow given his lack of support for addressing climate change, which many see as exacerbating such major disasters. Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English holgh, holugh, holwe, formally identical with holgh hollow entry 2, with adjectival meaning apparently after hol, holle "hollow, sunken," going back to Old English hol — more at hole entry 1

Noun

Middle English holgh, holough "hole, burrow, hollow of the hand," going back to Old English holh "cavity, hole," going back to *hulha-, probably extended form of Germanic *hula- "hollow, sunken" — more at hole entry 1

Verb

Middle English holowghen, holowen, holwen, derivative of holgh, holwe hollow entry 1

Adverb

derivative of hollow entry 1

First Known Use

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adverb

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hollow was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near hollow

Cite this Entry

“Hollow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hollow. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

hollow 1 of 2

noun

hol·​low ˈhäl-ō How to pronounce hollow (audio)
1
: an empty space within something : hole
2
: a low spot in a surface
especially : valley

hollow

2 of 2

adjective

1
: curved inward : sunken
hollow cheeks
2
: having a hole inside : not solid throughout
hollow tree
3
: lacking value, sincerity, or meaning
hollow victory
hollow promises
4
: being like a sound made in or by beating on a large empty enclosure : muffled
a hollow roar
hollow verb
hollowly
ˈhäl-ō-lē How to pronounce hollow (audio)
-ə-lē
adverb
hollowness noun

Medical Definition

hollow

noun

: a depressed part of a surface or a concavity
the hollow at the back of the knee

More from Merriam-Webster on hollow

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