shad·​ow | \ ˈsha-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce shadow (audio) \

Definition of shadow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the dark figure cast upon a surface by a body intercepting the rays from a source of light
2 : partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body
3 : a small degree or portion : trace
4 : an attenuated form or a vestigial remnant
5a : an inseparable companion or follower
b : one (such as a spy or detective) who shadows someone
6a : an area near an object : vicinity
b : pervasive and dominant influence
7 : a shaded or darker portion of a picture
8 : a reflected image
9 : shelter from danger or observation
10a : an imperfect and faint representation
b : an imitation of something : copy
11 : phantom
12 shadows plural : dark sense 1a
13 : a source of gloom or unhappiness
14 : a state of ignominy or obscurity


shadowed; shadowing; shadows

Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cast a shadow upon : cloud
2a : to follow especially secretly : trail
b : to accompany and observe especially in a professional setting
3 : to represent or indicate obscurely or faintly often used with forth or out
4 archaic : shelter, protect
5 archaic : shade sense 5
6 obsolete : to shelter from the sun
7 obsolete : conceal

intransitive verb

1 : to pass gradually or by degrees
2 : to become overcast with or as if with shadows



Definition of shadow (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a shadow cabinet shadow minister of defense
2a : having an indistinct pattern shadow plaid
b : having darker sections of design shadow lace

Other Words from shadow


shadowless \ ˈsha-​dō-​ləs How to pronounce shadow (audio) , -​də-​ləs \ adjective
shadowlike \ ˈsha-​dō-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shadow (audio) , -​də-​ˌlīk \ adjective


shadower \ ˈsha-​dō-​ər How to pronounce shadow (audio) , -​də-​wər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shadow

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of shadow in a Sentence

Noun The tree cast a long shadow across the lawn. You can see your own shadow on a sunny day. Part of the valley was in shadow. He saw something moving in the shadows. I sensed a shadow of disappointment in his expression. Verb Police shadowed the suspect for several days. She spent the night shadowing other waiters at the restaurant. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At the docks across the street, fisherman Bill Blue, 66, unloaded scores of black cod from his boat, the Brita Michell, in the shadow of the smokestacks. Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2022 Our situation, by comparison, is idyllic: in a meandering valley in the shadow of unnamed mountains, the East Fork of the Chandalar River rushing past to the east. Josh Condon, Robb Report, 6 Aug. 2022 In the shadow of the pandemic, the opioid crisis reached a grim record. Joanna Slater, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 In the shadow of a foreign policy win for the Biden administration (the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri), Griner's sentence presents an enormous challenge on the world stage without any clear solutions. Rick Klein, ABC News, 5 Aug. 2022 Now in its 10th edition, the Ouverture Spirituelle is still in the shadow of the rest of the festival. New York Times, 1 Aug. 2022 Maricela Lechuga, who like many residents of East San Jose descends from Mexican immigrants who settled in the neighborhood surrounding Reid-Hillview, talked about growing up in the shadow of a lead-emitting airport. Heather Landy, Quartz, 1 Aug. 2022 Since July 16, Flagstaff has experienced days of steady and heavy rain that has inundated neighborhoods in the shadow of mountains that burned recently. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 29 July 2022 Florida State has a rich history with New Orleans, with the Seminoles having played some of their more memorable football games in the shadow of the Big Easy. Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel, 30 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Keep in mind that because shadow IT applications are continually added by end users—and application usage continually changes—this isn’t a one-and-done task. Uri Haramati, Forbes, 11 Aug. 2022 For the scenes where Bale's villain Gorr summons shadow monsters, Waititi asked his kids and his collaborators' kids to help draw what the monsters might look like, images that the Visual Development team then brought to life. Devan Coggan,, 8 July 2022 That’s changed now that the city’s parks and transit departments are in charge, but park enforcement officers still shadow every visitor. Mary Jordan, Washington Post, 2 July 2022 Actual training in how to transfer passengers didn’t begin until new hires could shadow someone with experience. Harriet Baskas, NBC News, 28 June 2022 Upon completion of the master classes, the group will have an opportunity to shadow a WBD music supervisor on a show or feature, through a partnership with HBO, HBO Max, WBTV and Warner Bros. Pictures. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 21 June 2022 Ask to shadow a team member or two in that area for a project or even a day. Courtney Rottman, Forbes, 9 June 2022 Yet the feel-good sentimentality that ultimately, of course, triumphs can’t dispel the threats of failure, even tragedy, that shadow the action. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 8 June 2022 In Far From Respectable: Dave Hickey and His Art, Daniel Oppenheimer complicates the cartoon version of his life that continues to shadow his reputation as a writer. Jarrett Earnest, The New York Review of Books, 8 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The sooner, the better, as this transit has a pre-shadow period starting before the retrograde itself hits. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Nov. 2021 The sooner, the better as this transit has a pre-shadow period starting before the retrograde itself hits. Meghan Ros, Glamour, 1 Sep. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of shadow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 4


1906, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shadow


Middle English shadwe, from Old English sceaduw-, sceadu shade

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The first known use of shadow was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near shadow



shadow band

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Statistics for shadow

Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shadow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for shadow


shad·​ow | \ ˈsha-dō How to pronounce shadow (audio) \

Kids Definition of shadow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the dark figure cast on a surface by a body that is between the surface and the light My shadow stays with me.
2 : shade entry 1 sense 2 The valley was in shadow.
3 : phantom
4 : a very little bit : trace I believe his story beyond a shadow of doubt.
5 : something that causes a bad feeling The news cast a shadow over the party.
6 shadows plural : darkness caused by the setting of the sun


shadowed; shadowing

Kids Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cast a shadow upon Trees shadowed the ground.
2 : to follow and watch closely especially in a secret way


shad·​ow | \ ˈshad-(ˌ)ō, -ə(-w) How to pronounce shadow (audio) \

Medical Definition of shadow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body
b : a dark outline or image on an X-ray photograph where the X-rays have been blocked by a radiopaque mass (as a tumor)
2 : a colorless or slightly pigmented or stained body (as a degenerate cell or empty membrane) only faintly visible under the microscope


transitive verb

Medical Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 2)

: to perform shadow-casting on freeze-dried and shadowed myosin molecules

More from Merriam-Webster on shadow

Nglish: Translation of shadow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shadow for Arabic Speakers


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