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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Yet the shadow of Trump still lingered, with the Europeans having watched with alarm the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and fully aware that another populist figure, from the left or the right could easily emerge victorious in 2024. Washington Post, 13 June 2021 As the shadow of that glorious team of 2006 grew longer, the darker and deeper the gloom became. New York Times, 10 June 2021 The shadow of Mladic and Karadzic has spread far beyond the Balkans. Mike Corder, Star Tribune, 8 June 2021 The shadow of Mladic and Karadzic has spread far beyond the Balkans. NBC News, 8 June 2021 Imagine a starting lineup including Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson and even Ivica Zubac, out from under the shadow of Kobe Bryant and coached by someone like Frank Vogel. Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2021 Trump himself eventually penned a dubious executive order ostensibly banning TikTok and tried to broker a sale of the company’s US interests to untangle it from even the shadow of China. Andy Meek, BGR, 4 June 2021 The shadow of the Moon will be projected onto Earth along a path through Canada, Greenland and northeast Russia. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 3 June 2021 And so far, the race for governor in 2022 appears to be playing out in part under the shadow of the presidential election. Andrew Oxford, The Arizona Republic, 2 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ray tracing, a hallmark of advanced animation and gaming software across industries, reproduces the behavior of light and shadow in real 3D space by actually simulating how rays bounce around inside a scene. Lynne Peskoe-yang, Popular Mechanics, 27 May 2021 Opera Orlando’s production, in the intimate space of Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre, features video montages that help set the mood among a handsome and effective limbo-like set of light and shadow, whites, grays and mirrors. Matthew J. Palm,, 22 May 2021 In a study of shape and texture, light and shadow, Brown invites viewers to connect with the structures in a new way., 21 May 2021 Light and shadow intermix and surround the objects on the table, rearranging the elements of reality into a new visual expression arguably inspired by scientific theories like Planck’s quantum theory and Einstein’s theory of relativity. John Zotos, Dallas News, 7 May 2021 This wilderness area alternating incredible southern light and shadow where the blue sky dominates was the setting of a highly graphic black and white show. Cécilia Pelloux, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Because the Red Cross knew that my main goal was to shadow Taskayali and report on what life aboard La Suprema was like, my only job was dinner duty, checking names and ID numbers on a clipboard as the migrants were handed a tray. Ian Urbina, The Atlantic, 6 May 2021 Have your design team shadow your salespeople and score themselves on the skills below. Yamini Virani, Forbes, 4 May 2021 Teams almost have to commit to using at least one specific player to help shadow and defend Murray because of his dual-threat ability as a runner with jackrabbit speed and Houdini-like elusiveness. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 2 May 2021

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.

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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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Learn More About shadow

Time Traveler for shadow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shadow

Last Updated

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shadow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for shadow



English Language Learners Definition of shadow

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a dark shape that appears on a surface when someone or something moves between the surface and a source of light
: an area of darkness created when a source of light is blocked
: a very small amount of something



English Language Learners Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 3)

: to cover (something) with a shadow
: to follow and watch (someone) especially in a secret way
: to follow and watch (someone who is doing a job) in order to learn how to do the job yourself



English Language Learners Definition of shadow (Entry 3 of 3)

used to describe the members of the main opposition party in British politics who would be given important positions in the government if their party won a national election


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

Medical Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 2)

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


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