shad·ow | \ˈsha-(ˌ)dō \

Definition of shadow 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : 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

2 : a reflected image

3 : shelter from danger or observation

4a : an imperfect and faint representation

b : an imitation of something : copy

5 : the dark figure cast upon a surface by a body intercepting the rays from a source of light

6 : phantom

7 shadows plural : dark sense 1a

8 : a shaded or darker portion of a picture

9 : an attenuated form or a vestigial remnant

10a : an inseparable companion or follower

b : one (such as a spy or detective) who shadows someone

11 : a small degree or portion : trace

12 : a source of gloom or unhappiness

13a : an area near an object : vicinity

b : pervasive and dominant influence

14 : a state of ignominy or obscurity


shadowed; shadowing; shadows

Definition of shadow (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 archaic : shelter, protect

2 : to cast a shadow upon : cloud

3 obsolete : to shelter from the sun

4 obsolete : conceal

5 : to represent or indicate obscurely or faintly often used with forth or out

6a : to follow especially secretly : trail

b : to accompany and observe especially in a professional setting

7 archaic : shade sense 5

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shadow


shadowless \ˈsha-dō-ləs, -də-ləs \ adjective
shadowlike \ˈsha-dō-ˌlīk, -də-ˌlīk \ adjective


shadower \ˈsha-dō-ər, -də-wər \ noun

Examples of shadow in a Sentence


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.


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

His shadows were Uruguay defenders Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez, who know Ronaldo quite well from their clashes between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league. Tim Booth,, "Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal ousted by Uruguay," 30 June 2018 The light camouflages them against moonlight on the surface and eliminates their shadow, obscuring them from predators. National Geographic, "Living Fireworks, These Animals Produce Light Shows with Their Bodies," 30 June 2018 But Silicon Valley is also a real geographic place, with a real history, where real people live and work—and not just in tech, but also in its shadow. Ingrid Burrington, The Atlantic, "Who Gets to Live in Silicon Valley?," 25 June 2018 So for this sunny afternoon by the bay, their offense seeing its shadow and reverting to its hole was the issue. Kevin Acee,, "Padres lose Jordan Lyles, then lose game to Giants," 23 June 2018 The trees at field's edge were drawn as in a painting, their shadows black. Charles W. Gusewelle, kansascity, "For Father’s Day, a favorite column from Charles Gusewelle: That miracle day," 16 June 2018 The sun threw the domes into relief, sometimes casting their shadows onto the fog beyond. Laura Mallonee, WIRED, "Inside the Arctic Circle, Golden Hour Has Nothing on Golden Day," 8 June 2018 In their shadows, lawyers Cid and Macedo launched their own consulting firm a few months ago with the goal of connecting those working in the anti-Trump space. Moni Basu, CNN, "Blue state, red valley: In this part of California, a new generation is more woke than ever," 1 June 2018 The bleeding is just the lengthening of our shadowand the release of its whispers. David Roderick, San Francisco Chronicle, "State Lines: Joseph Rios’ ‘Nocturnes’," 30 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But getting the chance, as a high school freshman, to meet LaFace Records head of promotion Shanti Das at a career-planning class and then shadow her for a day inspired her to take a label internship. Billboard, "How Ethiopia Habtemariam Became Universal Music Group's Most Powerful African-American Woman: 'I Love Proving People Wrong'," 28 June 2018 The drone fires off a message via satellite and continues to shadow the fishing boats from a distance. The Economist, "Avast, me hearties," 5 July 2018 In addition to Kylie, he's shadowed Kim, Kourtney, and their kids. Victoria Rodriguez, Seventeen, "8 Facts About Kylie Jenner's Super Hot Bodyguard, Tim Chung," 9 May 2018 USA Today shadowed Martin on one of his trips, reporting that Martin visited as many as 10 schools. Tim Rohan,, "Jonathan Martin’s Life in the Shadows," 2 Mar. 2018 From the producers of Castle, another series about a nonpolice officer shadowing a detective and then getting involved in police work. Ellen Gray,, "TV picks: 'Shades of Blue,' a North Philly 'Quest,' 'Yellowstone,' 'Luke Cage' and more," 15 June 2018 Hull did her part in the 1,500, patiently shadowing leader Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire, who determinedly pushed the pace for the first three laps. Ken Goe,, "USC claims the NCAA women's track championship as the Oregon Ducks wilt in the rain," 9 June 2018 Unlike the hand-wringing that has shadowed the drinking life in the United States, the Brits still tend to have an indulgent attitude to bingeing. New York Times, "Sloshed, Hammered, Blotto — We’ve Been Doing It for Ages," 30 May 2018 The idea is to give visitors a voyeuristic view of the rest of the exhibit, as well as a glimpse of the surveillance that shadows shopping. Cathy Horyn, The Cut, "Eckhaus Latta Will Open a Shoppable Gallery Show at the Whitney," 29 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of shadow


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


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


1906, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shadow


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shadow

Statistics for shadow

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shadow

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shadow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shadow

Spanish Central: Translation of shadow

Nglish: Translation of shadow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shadow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shadow

What made you want to look up shadow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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