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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Cut tofu into one-inch cubes and put into a shallow dish. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Veggie noms: These spicy tofu nuggets are the perfect chicken substitute," 17 Apr. 2021 Roast in a shallow baking dish at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until tender. Katy Severson,, "How to make beet juice," 17 Apr. 2021 What was surprising was how fond the wolf was of the Ash River, hunting and waiting at its shallow pools for spawning white suckers to rise. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, "First collar video from wild Minnesota wolf shows fishing skills, adaptability," 14 Apr. 2021 In a wide, shallow dish, combine ¼ cup of the za’atar, the flour, and the pepper., "Recipes: A weeknight meal that makes the most of classic Middle Eastern ingredients," 7 Apr. 2021 If they’re penned in shallow coastal pools, the solid waste turns into a thick slime on the seafloor, smothering plants and animals. Ian Urbina, The New Yorker, "Fish Farming Is Feeding the Globe. What’s the Cost for Locals?," 1 Mar. 2021 To combat the lack of genetic diversity in the corpse flower and six other species with shallow gene pools, the Chicago Botanic Garden spearheaded the Tools and Resources for Endangered and Exceptional Plant Species (TREES) program in 2019. Doug Johnson, Wired, "Can This Group Revive the Finicky Corpse Flower?," 16 Jan. 2021 Those pools burst with life, much of it tied exclusively to these small shallow pools and are a vital part of the forest food web. Beth Burger, USA TODAY, "Trump's EPA rewrote the rules on air, water energy. Now voters face a choice on climate change issues," 31 Oct. 2020 Those pools burst with life, much of it tied exclusively to these small shallow pools and are a vital part of the forest food web. USA Today, "Trump's EPA rewrote the rules on air, water energy. Now voters face a choice on climate change issues," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Soto got Hernandez to pop out to shallow right field. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Miguel Cabrera, Matthew Boyd help Detroit Tigers top Cleveland Indians 3-2 on Opening Day," 1 Apr. 2021 Ahmed popped out to shallow left field in his first at-bat Thursday. Jose M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, "Nick Ahmed back in lineup for Diamondbacks after lengthy absence," 19 Mar. 2021 At Lewis Smith, this month is prime time to find striped bass running up the Sipsey River, Ryan Creek and Brushy Creek to spawn—the fish sometimes go all the way to the headwaters shallow enough to wade across. Frank Sargeant, al, "Alabama Friday fishing report," 5 Mar. 2021 The Dodgers were leading 7-6 when, with two on and two out, Brett Phillips looped a single to shallow right-center field off reliever Kenley Jansen. Mike Digiovanna Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers’ Will Smith explains his view of fateful last play in Game 4," 25 Oct. 2020 But another Indy native is also starting to shallow his learning curve in IU’s scheme. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Bryant Fitzgerald, Jovan Swann continue to progress for IU football defense," 10 Oct. 2020 Springer doubled to shallow left for his 25th career postseason extra-base hit in the leadoff spot, moving past Derek Jeter for most ever, according to Stats Perform. Beth Harris,, "Carlos Correa helps Astros to rally past A’s 10-5 in ALDS opener," 5 Oct. 2020 The Brewers played the infield in as Matt Carpenter battled for eight pitches before popping out to shallow right. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cardinals 4, Brewers 2: After 18-run outburst the previous day, offense reverts to form in Game 1," 17 Sep. 2020 Alex Dickerson flied out to shallow right and Mauricio Dubon wandered too far off second base and was doubled off to squelch the rally. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Ketel Marte breaks out, leads Diamondbacks in win over Giants," 5 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tyler DeWitt and Evan Hannibal were slowly making their way down a windswept slope during a backcountry snowboarding excursion in Colorado last spring when the shallow snow beneath them shifted and broke loose. Fox News, "Colorado snowboarders face reckless endangerment charges after avalanche," 25 Mar. 2021 February always cranks out some of the biggest tournament sacks of the year on Lake Palestine as heavyweight females gather around pre-spawn staging areas at shallow to midrange depths. Matt Williams, Dallas News, "Top bass pros set to square off on Lake Palestine in championship tournament," 12 Feb. 2021 In overall very good condition, except for a minute shallow 0.3 cm chip to the outer rim and minor characteristic warping to rim. Mike Wehner, BGR, "If you have a bowl like this at home, you might be rich," 20 Mar. 2021 On the right is a shallow alcove that holds a desk and a washer and dryer combined into one unit; they are not stacked. Globe Staff,, "Home of the Week: Putt. Serve. Cast. A R.I. cottage surrounded by outdoor recreation," 12 Mar. 2021 The fish breed and lay their eggs in the shallow, 92 degree Fahrenheit water that submerges the rock shelf. Peter Byrne, Scientific American, "Pupfish, Downfish: Subterranean Tsunami Gives Vertical Shakes to the Water-Hole Home of Endangered Fishes," 27 Mar. 2012 Below, the Browns are running a shallow under for Beckham from the left slot during Week 4. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Where did Baker Mayfield improve most in 2020 and what does that mean for next season? -- Film Review," 2 Mar. 2021 There's also the shallow pandering to Bachelor Nation's cries for diversity, evidenced by the obvious casting of contestants of colour without any real efforts to follow their respective journeys. Ineye Komonibo,, "The Bachelor Clearly Has So Much Work To Do," 26 Feb. 2021 Meanwhile, Ruth goes about her shallow, society-lady business, even as Elvira strives to undermine her. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Ghost of Noël Coward Is Nowhere to Be Found in the Dull Blithe Spirit," 19 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for shallow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shallow

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shallow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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
disapproving : not caring about or involving serious or important things


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

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Comments on shallow

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