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 shallowly (audio) , -​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

In the top of the fifth, Zobrist made a sliding stop in shallow right field to retire Kyle Seager with a runner at second to halt a rally. Mark Gonzales,, "4 takeaways from the Cubs-Mariners series, including Ben Zobrist’s return, Kyle Schwarber’s groove and Jon Lester’s bragging rights," 3 Sep. 2019 There was one out in the inning and runners on first and second when Springer knocked a ball into shallow center field. Kristie Rieken,, "George Springer leads rally as Astros down Rays again," 29 Aug. 2019 Second baseman Wilmer Flores had to range to his left and into shallow right field to field Crawford’s ball. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Diamondbacks ride roller coaster, strong Merrill Kelly outing to beat Giants," 18 Aug. 2019 The laser from foul territory In the seventh inning, with the AL ahead, 6-5, Rice hit a ball to shallow right field. Branson Wright,, "40 years after historic All-Star Game, Dave Parker battles Parkinson’s, helps at Reds Youth Academy," 7 July 2019 With one out and a runner on first, D’backs right fielder Adam Jones hit a pop up to shallow right center field that appeared to be a routine play for a pair of Giants outfielders. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Sloppy defense costs Giants, Vogt’s late home run not enough to carry offense," 29 June 2019 La Stella retrieved the ball in shallow right-field and easily threw out Suarez trying to score. John Fay,, "Cincinnati Reds fall to Los Angeles Angels 5-1 for third loss in a row," 26 June 2019 Williams sent a towering fly ball into shallow left field. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Walk-off blooper caps comeback victory for Alexandria," 19 June 2019 Zak Whalin didn’t catch it all, not nearly, and the Central Missouri catcher lifted a bloop single into shallow center field. Greg Woods, kansascity, "Central Missouri’s rally falls short in 6-5 loss to Colorado Mesa at DII World Series," 3 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The dugout empties, the rest of the team stampedes to shallow left field to find the hero and hug him or tackle him or tear at his jersey. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Electrifying walk-off wins are how these Dodgers roll," 7 Aug. 2019 Pinch-hitter Ryan Braun flied out to shallow right but Tyler Saladino walked to load the bases. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 8, Reds 6: Christian Yelich becomes first player in club history with 30 HRs before break," 1 July 2019 The nearshore shallows offered easy travels and a mix of aquatic plant life unfamiliar to us. Colin Diltz, The Seattle Times, "Reader’s Lens | Paddling Lake Ozette," 11 Sep. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rui paddled in the shallows, and built sand castles. Jane Perlez,, "At Mao’s beach, China’s leaders still make history as lifeguards hide from the sun," 22 Aug. 2019 Warner leads the group along the fringes of the river, sticking to the shallows and exploring shady channels between little islands and the mainland. al, "Kayaking group offers ‘Monday therapy’ on Dog River," 7 Aug. 2019 Its shallows extend far from the shore, allowing bathers to wade hundreds of yards out. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "U.S. tourists drown as their children are rescued after being swept to sea," 7 Aug. 2019 But like that duck in the shallows, Monhegan is always churning beneath the surface. Christopher Reynoldsstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Maine’s scenic Monhegan Island is a portrait of Brigadoon mixed with L.L. Bean," 25 July 2019 The cats in attendance weren't willing to stick even a nail into the shallows. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Cats and dogs grab surf boards, ride waves at Galveston Island Humane Society event," 23 July 2019 First, geopolitics is stoking a new push to send humans beyond the shallows of low-Earth orbit. The Economist, "A new age of space exploration is beginning," 18 July 2019 Experts expect the water in this sunless subsurface reservoir to be the same temperature as the shallows of the Pacific Ocean. Shannon Stirone, Scientific American, "New NASA Mission Will Fly Titan’s Frigid Skies to Search for Life’s Beginnings," 27 June 2019 Media outlets around the world published a now-iconic photo of the bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, washed up in the shallows of the Rio Grande near Matamoros, Mexico. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, "A searing photo of deaths at the border forces media outlets to decide: Publish or not?," 26 June 2019

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

8 Sep 2019

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
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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More from Merriam-Webster on shallow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shallow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shallow

Spanish Central: Translation of shallow

Nglish: Translation of shallow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shallow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shallow

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recurring in steady succession

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