shad·​ow·​box | \ ˈsha-dō-ˌbäks How to pronounce shadowbox (audio) , -də-ˌbäks \
shadowboxed; shadowboxing; shadowboxes

Definition of shadowbox

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to box with an imaginary opponent especially as a form of training

shadow box


Definition of shadow box (Entry 2 of 2)

: a shallow enclosing case usually with a glass front in which something is set for protection and display

Examples of shadowbox in a Sentence

Verb He was shadowboxing to stay in shape.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And that escalated to the fight.’’ Embiid shadowboxed to the crowd’s delight on his way back to the locker room., "PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns got into a brawl that overshadowed a rout on the court.," 31 Oct. 2019 Embiid shadowboxed to the crowd's delight on his way back to the locker room. Rob Maaddi, Houston Chronicle, "Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns ejected as Sixers rout Timberwolves," 30 Oct. 2019 Embiid shadowboxed to the crowd’s delight on his way back to the locker room. Rob Maaddi, Twin Cities, "Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid ejected in Timberwolves’ loss to 76ers," 30 Oct. 2019 The Trump administration and parts of the Iranian government have each appeared to be desperately seeking an off-ramp, aware that any move from shadowboxing to open conflict could be disastrous. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Trump Says U.S. Downs Iranian Drone, Refueling Tensions as Both Nations Dig In," 18 July 2019 Not after Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis spent 15 minutes shadowboxing in one of the most bizarre (and boring) UFC fights in the 25-year history of the company. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar cut cringy promo for a fight we don't need," 8 July 2018 But Mayweather, a shadow of himself, plays defense when shadowboxing. Kevin Acee,, "Alvarez-Golovkin ready for real fight," 29 Aug. 2017 Michael Gonzalez, 46, owner of Verde Flowers on Lincoln Avenue was shadowboxing on a recent afternoon. Jaime Lowe, New York Times, "The South Bronx Boxing Gym at the Center of Gentrification," 17 Aug. 2017 In front of Somerset Station stood Joe Aster, shadowboxing in sandals, a softball shirt, and Buddy Holly glasses. Mike Newall,, "There's an answer to the heroin problem we need to try: Safe-injection sites," 14 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When her grandmother, Helen Bunel, died in 2001, the shadow box passed to another relative. David Owens,, "74 Years Later, Connecticut Airman Shot Down Over France In WW II To Get Proper Burial," 7 July 2018 Investigators recovered Ream’s dog tag from a shadow box at the grandmother’s home in Chesapeake, Md., "Rumsby told investigators he took dog tags that belonged to four US airmen killed in plane crashes in 1944, according to a criminal complaint.," 12 Nov. 2019 Investigators recovered Ream’s dog tag from a shadow box at the grandmother’s home in Chesapeake, Maryland. Washington Post, "Virginia man pleads guilty in WWII dog tags theft," 11 Nov. 2019 The grenade in the shadow box was inert, but the other was believed to be a live military ordnance. USA TODAY, "Baby elephant, cougars, dognapper, burning treehouse: News from around our 50 states," 24 Oct. 2019 The effect recalls Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes: objects on plain display accrue a sense of mystery. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "The Ordinary Brilliance of Big Thief," 18 Nov. 2019 In this July 17, 2019 photo, amateur boxer Marco Morales shadow boxes in front of his home at the Villa Maria del Triunfo shantytown in Lima, Peru. Washington Post, "Pan American Games spotlight inequality in Peru’s capital," 26 July 2019 Investigators recovered Ream's dog tag from a shadow box at the grandmother's home in Chesapeake, Maryland. Michael Kunzelman,, "Virginia man pleads guilty in WWII dog tags theft in Maryland," 11 Nov. 2019 After all, the veteran has a shadow box hanging in his Brevard County home with an East German flag and a piece of the Berlin Wall. Patrick Connolly,, "Berlin Wall 30th Anniversary: Brevard County veteran recalls watching the wall fall," 8 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shadowbox.' 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 shadowbox


1924, in the meaning defined above


1891, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of shadowbox was in 1891

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Cite this Entry

“Shadowbox.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce shadow box (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shadowbox

: to box with an imaginary opponent as a form of training

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