\ ˈshāl How to pronounce shale (audio) \

Definition of shale

: 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shale

shaley or less commonly shaly \ ˈshā-​lē How to pronounce shaly (audio) \ adjective

Examples of shale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

If oil prices remain low, Saudi Arabia and Russia may face an uncomfortable choice: let prices dip or cut production more steeply, thereby losing market share and propping up American shale. The Economist, "OPEC’s predictable deal cannot hide its giant problems," 4 July 2019 That move was caused in large part by the shale boom, which left the United States with an abundance of cheap natural gas to burn for power. Matt Egan, CNN, "America's renewable energy capacity is now greater than coal," 11 June 2019 Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world’s two largest oil producers behind the U.S., which took the top spot over the past year as a result of robust shale-oil growth. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Oil Falls on Fresh Demand Worries," 22 Jan. 2019 Shale oil and shale gas production boomed during his presidency. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Trump says he has an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, but coal gets top billing.," 1 Feb. 2018 The brown sand stretches hard and smooth to the rock-shale shelf marking the high-tide line. Washington Post, "AP Was There: D-Day correspondent returns 10 years later," 4 June 2019 What’s Warren Buffett doing with a $10 billion bet on the future of oil and gas, helping old-school Occidental Petroleum buy Anadarko, a U.S. shale leader? Mark P. Mills, WSJ, "What if Green Energy Isn’t the Future?," 19 May 2019 When weathered into soil, this shale is perfect for growing cotton, a cash crop planted at a time... Robert M. Thorson, WSJ, "‘Origins’ Review: The Earth and Us," 9 May 2019 America’s shale revolution has broken years of dependence on Middle Eastern oil, to the extent that the International Energy Agency expects the U.S. to become a net energy exporter by 2023. Sarah Mcfarlane And Summer Said, WSJ, "Saudi Arabia Edges Toward Bet on Booming U.S. Energy Sector," 8 Jan. 2019

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

1747, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shale

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shale

Statistics for shale

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shale

The first known use of shale was in 1747

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shale



English Language Learners Definition of shale

: a soft kind of rock that splits easily into flat pieces


\ ˈshāl How to pronounce shale (audio) \

Kids Definition of shale

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shale

Spanish Central: Translation of shale

Nglish: Translation of shale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shale for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shale

Comments on shale

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


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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


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!