: a fissile rock that is formed by the consolidation of clay, mud, or silt, has a finely stratified or laminated structure, and is composed of minerals essentially unaltered since deposition
shaley adjective
or less commonly shaly

Examples of shale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fox and others found residues from specific species of sulfur bacteria in the shales that formed during the second extinction pulse. Howard Lee, Ars Technica, 8 Feb. 2023 Lyons thinks permafrost thaw is lifting the icy lid off the bedrock, allowing oxygenated water to reach pyrite-rich shale for the first time in thousands of years. Alec Luhn, Scientific American, 19 Dec. 2023 Hickey and Walter started Colgate in 2015 while in their late 20s, just after the oil price crashed as OPEC flooded the market with crude in a bid to wrestle back control from the nascent U.S. shale industry. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, 21 Aug. 2023 In 2002 Devon Energy bought Mitchell Energy properties in the Barnett shale and Devon initiated the shale revolution with success in fracking long horizontal wells – the key to shale technology. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2022 Although the Chesapeake deal marks the company’s entry to U.S. shale, Ineos has long sought to exploit shale deposits in its home country, ambitions that ultimately were frustrated by a government moratorium on fracking. Dallas News, 24 Feb. 2023 Of less concern in the Barnett shale are plays that have multi-layered payzones. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2022 The way to read the deal is as a bet on U.S. shale fracking and hedge against the left’s anti-fossil fuels policies. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2023 The credit-rating agency has officially put Hess on Rating Watch Positive, saying the acquisition would enhance Chevron’s upstream portfolio by adding Hess’ growing assets in Guyana, exposure to Bakken shale and complementary assets in the Gulf of Mexico. WSJ, 24 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shale.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from obsolete or dialect shale scale, shell, from Middle English, from Old English scealu — more at shell

First Known Use

1747, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shale was in 1747

Dictionary Entries Near shale

Cite this Entry

“Shale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a rock with a fine grain formed from clay, mud, or silt
shaley adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on shale

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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