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 The white lines encode the locations of peaks for a configuration of shallow-water waves at a particular moment in time. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, "The Art of Mathematics in Chalk," 24 Apr. 2021 Witnesses captured video of the single-engine TBM Avenger descending slowly over the heads of beachgoers near the Cocoa Beach Air Show and landing in the shallow water just offshore. Fox News, "WWII-era plane in Florida air show makes splash landing in ocean," 19 Apr. 2021 The car appeared to be sitting in shallow water, with a concrete embankment flanking one side of the creek. Alex Mann,, "Baltimore police car swerves responding to call, crashes into Herring Run creek," 17 Apr. 2021 Thus, the author notes that Tiktaalik was probably able to move and support itself in shallow water and, perhaps, adjoining land using limb-like fins. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, "5 Undersung Signposts Of Earth’s Evolution," 15 Apr. 2021 Elafonissi Beach is actually an island, separated from the mainland by the shallow water and sandbars that only disappear under about three feet of water at high tide. Anne Olivia Bauso, Travel + Leisure, "25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World," 12 Apr. 2021 Spurgin showed up a couple of days early to scout for spawning beds visible in shallow water. Dallas News, "McKinney angler reels in lifetime catch, boats biggest fish at Mega Bass," 10 Apr. 2021 The waterside part of the house features a sandy beach and cove with crystal-clear shallow water for swimming. Howard Walker, Robb Report, "Home of the Week: This Soaring $32 Million Bahamian Mansion Comes With a Porsche and a Range Rover," 6 Apr. 2021 As part of the announcement, the administration designated an area of shallow water between Long Island and the New Jersey coast as a priority offshore wind area, a first step before issuing new leases to wind developers. New York Times, "Biden Administration Announces a Major Offshore Wind Plan," 29 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With two out in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds’ Tyler Stephenson broke his bat on a soft liner to shallow right. The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Diamondbacks rally in Cincinnati, beat Reds in extra innings," 22 Apr. 2021 Bote gave Chicago a 4-2 lead with a two-run single to shallow right, and the runners advanced when right fielder Michael Conforto’s throw home bounced past the catcher. Andrew Seligman,, "Báez hits slam, Cubs get boost from Mets errors in 16-4 romp," 21 Apr. 2021 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Its shallow, gently sloping coastline provides the perfect landscape for shrimp fishing on horseback, an old-world style of harvesting the local grey shrimp. Liza Weisstuch, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ten Cultural Experiences to Put on Your Post-Pandemic Bucket List," 27 Apr. 2021 Wilson mimics her musical forebears the same way many of her generation mimic political forebears — without comparable talent and with a different shallow, conviction. Armond White, National Review, "H.E.R.’s Gimmicky Corporate Protest Songs," 16 Apr. 2021 This coincided with the loss of the shallow, warm, nutrient-rich, equatorial Tethys sea. Paul Manger, Quartz, "Whale and dolphin brains produce more heat than those of humans. What exactly does that mean?," 10 Apr. 2021 The sheets are scrunched up and arranged in an uneven layer over the bottom of a large shallow serving bowl and the thick sauce from the stew is spooned all over before the chunks of meat are placed over the trid. Anissa Helou, Los Angeles Times, "In Ramadan, fasting is followed by feasting — and traditional dishes," 9 Apr. 2021 Few first ladies have had a rockier go of it than Nancy Reagan, who was alternately scorned as a shallow, pre-feminist throwback and portrayed as a calculating power behind the throne. Karen Tumulty, WSJ, "Nancy Reagan and the Power of Intimacy," 8 Apr. 2021 According to National Geographic, bull sharks are found in the shallow, warm waters of all the world's oceans. Nayeli Lomeli, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Story about bull sharks in Arkansas river started as satire," 31 Mar. 2021 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

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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shallow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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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