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 Then comes the alpenglow, and after that the Earth shadow. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 June 2022 Use orange face paint to portray the nose, and play with blue frosty shadow on the eyes. Cameron Jenkins, Good Housekeeping, 24 June 2022 Her beauty look consisted of glittery pink eye shadow, a dramatic cat eye, long lashes, plenty of blush, and a glossy lip with dark red liner. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 June 2022 As a white artist who profited greatly from the popularization of a style associated with African Americans, Presley, throughout his career, worked under the shadow and suspicion of racial appropriation. Michael T. Bertrand, The Conversation, 22 June 2022 In Alabama, the Senate Republican primary runoff could spotlight the lingering shadow of the 2020 election. Isabella Murray, ABC News, 21 June 2022 Here's a look at some of the latest developments in the shadow 2024 campaign. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 20 June 2022 Ne-Yo has not had an album out since 2018, but that did not stop the crowd from falling hard for a sensuality that was only maybe only accentuated by the hat that kept his face in constant shadow. Chris Willman, Variety, 20 June 2022 And the most important question, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is who decides what matters? New York Times, 18 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Borrowing from 1940s film noir, Lasky played with light and shadow to add a grittier feel, remove background details and achieve a cinematic effect. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 20 June 2022 Arsenic, calcium, and sulfur mapping, for instance, showed the definition of the flower and hinted at the original illumination achieved through Mignon's use of light and shadow, while the iron distribution showed its overall shape. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 14 June 2022 Another offshoot of inflation to be wary of: shadow inflation, or when the quality of a service or product declines. Alicia Adamczyk, Fortune, 26 May 2022 Gartner reports that in large enterprises, 30% to 40% of IT spending goes to shadow IT. Jim Brennan, Forbes, 18 May 2022 O’Neill established a dynamic partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital that sent Timilty students to MGH weekly to shadow health care professionals. Globe Staff,, 16 Apr. 2022 Specifically, interns will shadow staff, assisting customers in the computer/multi-media labs, and observe computer classes. cleveland, 15 Apr. 2022 Then turning around and shadow-banning or censoring the people that have made their platform a destination in the first place. ELLE, 11 Apr. 2022 The city’s delegate to Congress and shadow delegate will also appear on the ballot. Washington Post, 23 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for shadow

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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

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shadow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 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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