shal·​low | \ ˈsha-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce shallow (audio) \

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

Other Words from shallow


shallowly \ ˈsha-​lō-​lē How to pronounce shallow (audio) , -​lə-​lē \ adverb
shallowness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shallow

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

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

Adjective 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. Noun we waded through the shallows looking for tadpoles
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In June, the boat also ran aground in shallow water, though no injuries were reported; the operating company was advised to enhance its safety measures. Shafiq Najib,, 24 Apr. 2022 Bones — ribs, vertebrae, some teeth — tufted with green algae remained visible through the shallow water. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2022 The ships topped 50 mph (80 kph) — fast enough to chase down pirates — and were highly maneuverable, even in shallow water, thanks to steerable waterjets instead of propellers. David Sharp, ajc, 7 Apr. 2022 Bartlett delivered one report in his tie and shirt with his slacks rolled up to his knees while standing in shallow water at the bay front. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Apr. 2022 Earlier this month, a wooden boat carrying hundreds of migrants grounded in shallow water off Key Largo, and 163 people swam ashore near the Ocean Reef Club. Danica Cotto And Freida Frisara,, 15 Mar. 2022 Reopening in 2016, the eerie underground cavern is filled with columns that appear to hover in shallow water which reflects them, and is lit with shafts of natural light from above. Rebecca Treon, Chron, 15 Mar. 2022 Earlier this month, a wooden boat carrying hundreds of migrants grounded in shallow water off Key Largo, and 163 people swam ashore near the Ocean Reef Club. Danica Coto,, 15 Mar. 2022 Get a kayak or canoe and drift over the Laguna Madre, which has shallow water that's great for beginner and expert paddlers alike. Amanda Ogle, Travel + Leisure, 7 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, Willi Castro hit a flare to shallow left. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 May 2022 After a light flour dredge, the chiles are eased into iron skillets to shallow fry until golden outside and molten inside. Maggie Hennessy, Bon Appétit, 1 Apr. 2022 Byron Buxton lifted a popup to shallow left in the first inning that Verdugo lost in the sun, allowing Buxton to slide safely into second for a double. Kyle Hightower, Hartford Courant, 15 Apr. 2022 DeCinces swung at a first-pitch fastball and flied to shallow right, Wilfong holding at third. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2021 Two pitches later, Brandon Crawford flared a single to shallow right field. Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct. 2021 Yordan Alvarez drove a double and Yuli Gurriel flared a decisive single to shallow left. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Oct. 2021 Mookie Betts reached Brandon Crawford’s flare to shallow right field on one bounce. Matt Kawahara, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Oct. 2021 The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second after loading the bases with one out on Turner’s single to left-center, Will Smith’s walk and Cody Bellinger’s soft single to shallow right that Daulton Varsho was unable to make a diving catch of. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then, Gurriel ended Skubal's outing with a two-out bloop single that dropped between Baddoo and shortstop Harold Castro in shallow left. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 25 Mar. 2022 Work a shallow-running jerk bait with long sweeps of the fishing rod. cleveland, 28 Apr. 2022 Stir in parsley and divide into 4 shallow serving bowls. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 26 Apr. 2022 The second big problem is flooding, especially on the shallow, braided Sagavanirktok River, which parallels the final 100 miles of the highway. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Apr. 2022 After Mike Moustakas fortunately advanced to second on a two-out single to right field, forgetting the number of outs and freezing on the shallow fly ball, Drury lined a three-run homer into the Reds’ bullpen past left field. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 8 Apr. 2022 Footage also showed the sharks had different hunting tactics, such as lurking in shallow or deeper waters, as well as actively patrolling during the day or night. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2022 The rail authority also sank a high-capacity water well for dust suppression, which drained down a shallow aquifer that feeds their domestic well. Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2021 Working in batches, arrange the rolls in a single layer in a shallow, heatproof dish. Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for shallow

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shallow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for shallow


shal·​low | \ ˈsha-lō How to pronounce shallow (audio) \
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) How to pronounce shallow (audio) \

Medical Definition of shallow

: displacing comparatively little air shallow breathing

More from Merriam-Webster on shallow

Nglish: Translation of shallow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shallow for Arabic Speakers


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