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 triumphErnest 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 treesRobert Shaplen
hollowing 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

Examples of hollow in a Sentence

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
Related Story Wafer fiber has a hollow honeycomb structure, which provides thermal insulation properties. Angela Velasquez, Sourcing Journal, 4 July 2024 The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. Colleen Doherty, Verywell Health, 1 July 2024
Noun
Out of all the people getting hyaluronic acid fillers—in their lips, their cheeks, their under-eye hollows—young millennials grew at the fastest rate, with a 9 percent rise over 2022. Elizabeth Siegel, Allure, 25 June 2024 The tree feeds the insects with nectar and shelters them in hollows called domacia; in exchange, the ants defend the acacia from giraffes and other herbivores by swarming the animals and delivering painful bites. Katherine Irving, science.org, 19 June 2024
Verb
What’s more important, for now, is how this hole in the center of Margaret’s life hollows her out and strains her relationships. Siddhant Adlakha, Vulture, 26 Jan. 2024 The new breed of autocrats corrode democracy by taking part in democratic politics and then hollowing them out until only an empty shell remains. Moisés Naím, Foreign Affairs, 22 Feb. 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 See all Example Sentences for hollow 

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

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 20 Jul. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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