shal·low | \ˈsha-(ˌ)lō \

Definition of shallow 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : having little depth shallow water

2 : having little extension inward or backward office buildings have taken the form of shallow slabs— Lewis Mumford

3a : penetrating only the easily or quickly perceived shallow generalizations

b : lacking in depth of knowledge, thought, or feeling a shallow demagogue

4 : displacing comparatively little air : weak shallow breathing


shallowed; shallowing; shallows

Definition of shallow (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to make shallow

intransitive verb

: to become shallow



Definition of shallow (Entry 3 of 3)

: a shallow place or area in a body of water usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

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Other Words from shallow


shallowly \ˈsha-lō-lē, -lə-lē \ adverb
shallowness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shallow

Synonyms: Adjective

depthless, shoal

Synonyms: Noun

ford, shoal

Antonyms: Adjective


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Choose the Right Synonym for shallow


superficial, shallow, cursory mean lacking in depth or solidity. superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features. a superficial analysis of the problem shallow is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character. a light, shallow, and frivolous review cursory suggests a lack of thoroughness or a neglect of details. gave the letter only a cursory reading

Examples of shallow in a Sentence


The shallow end of the pool is only three feet deep. Her boyfriends were all shallow creeps. She could only take shallow breaths. His breathing became very shallow.


we waded through the shallows looking for tadpoles
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But Murphy dropped a two-run single over second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who was nearly placed in perfect position to make the catch in shallow right. Matt Breen,, "Phillies' bullpen coughs up lead in loss to Nationals," 25 June 2018 Clint Frazier of the Yankees hit a drive in the ninth inning that looked headed deep to left field, but the ball hit a speaker hanging from an overhead catwalk and caromed back down in shallow left. Noah Trister, The Seattle Times, "Hader headlines impressive bullpen for NL-leading Brewers," 24 June 2018 After Avery George's lead-off flare fell just beyond the outstretched glove of second baseman Coby Boulware in shallow right in the sixth, Eissler picked him off at first base. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Jake Eissler flirts with perfection but TCU's scoreless-innings streak finally ends | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 5 May 2018 Place first seven ingredients in a shallow, nonstick saucepan and cover with water. Country Living, "Sticky Rice Dressing with Chinese Sausage, Edamame, and Chestnuts," 28 Sep. 2010 The northern madtom is nocturnal and avoids shallow waters during the day. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Polishing a gem: Plan aims for St. Clair-Detroit River system improvements," 10 July 2018 In a separate coral reef project, also being conducted with Planet and the Carnegie Institution, The Nature Conservancy is leveraging Carnegie’s computer vision AI to develop a high-resolution map of the shallow waters of the Caribbean basin. Bill Gourgey, WIRED, "How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural Disasters," 10 July 2018 Video of the incident shot from a neighboring vessel showed thick smoke and flames consume the 40-foot-boat, as onlookers jumped into shallow waters to help rescue passengers. Eli Meixler, Time, "One American Was Killed and Another Underwent a Double Leg Amputation After a Boat Exploded in the Bahamas," 3 July 2018 Valencia and his daughter were with family members when Emily and three other children ran out to a sandbar in shallow water, the Fresno County Coroner’s office said. Gabby Ferreira, sacbee, "She helped save children from a rip current. But she was swept away, officials say," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Courtney Abbott’s two-out bloop single to shallow right fell just beyond an outstretched Lexy Wright, allowing Katie Templeman to race in from third for the walk-off victory. Steve Bittenbender, The Courier-Journal, "Butler ends its 11-year drought and takes home Sixth Region title," 1 June 2018 Kassandra Espinosa tripled deep down the right-field line and Bridgette Tuxbury drove her home with a single to shallow left. David Furones,, "Cooper City tops St. Thomas Aquinas in extras to advance to states," 12 May 2018 With Cole facing Daniel Descalso, Reddick had to race in for a fly ball hit to shallow left. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Astros' Gerrit Cole flirts with no-hitter, pitches a gem in rout of Diamondbacks," 4 May 2018 Bonzon reached first on a blooper to shallow left field and managed to score shortly after on a throwing error. Kyle Mcfadden, Howard County Times, "Chapelgate softball gets past Pallotti to remain undefeated in conference play," 1 May 2018 But Kela struck out Kyle Seager, Ichiro and got Dee Gordon to pop out to shallow left to end the game. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Mariners can’t complete sweep of Rangers after Erasmo Ramirez puts them in early hole," 22 Apr. 2018 The first came in the fifth inning, when Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon popped a ball up to shallow leftfield. Jon Tayler,, "Sean Manaea Stuns Everyone by No-Hitting Baseball's Best Team," 22 Apr. 2018 Brown would walk the perimeter of the pond, peering into the translucent shallows to gaze at the fish. Ferris Jabr, Smithsonian, "It’s Official: Fish Feel Pain," 8 Jan. 2018 Toronto halved the deficit in the third when Hernandez hit a leadoff double and scored on Richard Urena's bloop double to shallow left. USA TODAY, "Kevin Gausman pitches 7 innings, Orioles top Blue Jays 2-1 to snap skid," 13 Sep. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After a snorkel session exploring the healthy reefs, most of our group lolled in the shallows for a dip. New York Times, "Want to See the Wild Side of Cuba? Try a Kayak," 16 May 2018 The spawn is winding toward a conclusion, but both the smaller buck bass and the larger females are likely to remain in the shallows for another week or so guarding the fry and feeding. Joe Songer,, "See video of a turkey hunter calling up a bobcat," 30 Apr. 2018 That one pool has produced largemouth bass weighing more than 6 pounds, most of them exploding on topwater plugs fished in the shaded shallows. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Catch the good times rolling on the rivers," 12 May 2018 Best lures have been Choo Choo Shakers and swimjigs in the grassy shallows and Scroungers along deeper areas, Carter said. Frank Sargeant,, "Friday Fishing Report," 12 Apr. 2018 Almost instantly, a wave doubled up on the shallows, sucked me backwards over the falls, and sent me bouncing up the sand. Jeff Johnson, Outside Online, "Jeff Johnson on the First Time He Saved a Life," 11 July 2018 In its shadow, sea lions splash in the shallows, their distinctive barks intermingled with the crashing waves, as scarlet Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttle along the ebony shoreline and Galápagos hawks survey the scene from above. Alexandra Kirkman, Fortune, "Visit the Galapagos Like a Royal," 23 June 2018 Only the surface of the Porites formation contains live polyps, so after drilling, the coral formation should continue to grow in the shallows, unharmed and without interruption. Elizabeth Svoboda, Scientific American, "Cores from Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future," 6 June 2018 Deep reefs aren’t adjuncts for the shallows, but evolutionary hotbeds that demand protection in their own right. Ben Goldfarb, Smithsonian, "Illuminating the Ocean’s Teeming Twilight Zone, Before It Disappears," 14 Apr. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1510, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1569, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shallow


Middle English schalowe; probably akin to Old English sceald shallow — more at skeleton

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Statistics for shallow

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shallow

The first known use of shallow was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for shallow



English Language Learners Definition of shallow

: having a small distance to the bottom from the surface or highest point

: not going far inward from the outside or the front edge of something

: not caring about or involving serious or important things


shal·low | \ˈsha-lō \
shallower; shallowest

Kids Definition of shallow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not deep a shallow stream

2 : taking in small amounts of air shallow breaths

3 : showing little knowledge, thought, or feeling They're shallow people only interested in money.

Other Words from shallow

shallowness noun



Kids Definition of shallow (Entry 2 of 2)

: a shallow place in a body of water usually used in pl.


shal·low | \ˈshal-(ˌ)ō, -ə(-w) \

Medical Definition of shallow 

: displacing comparatively little air shallow breathing

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Comments on shallow

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


lying above or upon

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