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


shadower \ ˈsha-​dō-​ər How to pronounce shadower (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 The story about a young newlywed who lives in the shadow of her husband’s first wife, Rebecca, on a sprawling family estate on the English coast was nothing short of mesmerizing. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Netflix’s Rebecca: Everything We Know About the Lily James and Armie Hammer Movie," 7 Aug. 2020 In the film, shark scientist Tristan Guttridge explains that their size may be a result of the many areas in shadow under the bridge, which allow these huge predators to rest in, and launch attacks from, the darkness. Jeanne Jakle,, "Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has competition this summer from Sharkest on Nat Geo Wild," 6 Aug. 2020 More than 7,000 reviewers swear that swiping and patting in a touch of this formula onto your lid before shadow is a must-have step for an untouchable eye look. Jessica Kasparian, USA TODAY, "8 ways to make your eyes look amazing while wearing a face mask," 4 Aug. 2020 The site sits on 146th Street, one of the busiest four-lane roads in the county, and in the shadow of the towering Monon Greenway bridge that crosses the road. Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, "'Am I just the collateral damage?': Carmel council approves 146th Street townhomes," 4 Aug. 2020 The original launch date was in the shadow of the 2020 iPhone SE launch, which really up-ended the midrange market by offering a top-of-the-line SoC in a $400 to $550 (depending on the country) smartphone. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google finally announces the Pixel 4a for $349," 3 Aug. 2020 Behind them is a towering, dark shadow of a figure, that slowly reveals itself as Pridgeon Stadium as the sun rises. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Front-line workers describe a day at the Pridgeon Stadium COVID-19 testing site in Cy-Fair," 1 Aug. 2020 In her own words, the athlete looks back at her struggle to keep her chin up in the shadow of her country’s jealous leader, Nicolae Ceausescu. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, "9 great documentaries to feed your Olympic fever," 1 Aug. 2020 His father, Herbert Brown, inherited the business and wanted above all to be rid of the statue’s shadow. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, "A Confederate statue is toppled in rural Maryland, then quietly stored away," 4 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The navy is then left with no option but to shadow the boats. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "The Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You This," 12 June 2020 In the second year, students shadow training officers, before returning full time for a third year focused on investigations and completing a thesis paper. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Some U.S. police train for just a few weeks, in some countries they train for years," 10 June 2020 This sense of cosmic vastness shadowed me across the rolling farms of the Maya lowlands to La Lancha, where cheery wooden casitas hung with traditional textiles sit on a hillside so steep there's a funicular to get guests to Lake Petén Itzá below. Julien Capmeil, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Guatemala, Eco-Retreats and Arts Collectives Blend Seamlessly with Tradition," 30 Mar. 2020 With schools closed, their 3-year-old daughter shadows them everywhere. Matt Apuzzo, New York Times, "Covid-19’s Economic Pain Is Universal. But Relief? Depends on Where You Live.," 23 Mar. 2020 The lack of professionalism, the incompetence is the kind of thing that not only shocks a party but shadows it. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "The Democrats’ Unserious Week," 6 Feb. 2020 The Texans' special teams captain adeptly covers backs and tight ends, shadowing them in coverage. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans have difficult task: replacing injured Dylan Cole," 25 Nov. 2019 More than a couple cars shadowed me on the Ohio Turnpike. Henry Payne,, "Toyota Corolla Hatchback is wallflower no more," 25 Oct. 2019 As Gurley ran toward the right corner of the end zone, linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. shadowed him. Los Angeles Times, "Todd Gurley’s spectacular touchdown catch ignites Rams’ scoring machine in win," 20 Oct. 2019

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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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

14 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shadow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for shadow


How to pronounce shadow (audio)

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.
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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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

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