\ ˈshāl How to pronounce shale (audio) \

Definition of shale

: a fissile rock that is formed by the consolidation of clay, mud, or silt, has a finely stratified or laminated structure, and is composed of minerals essentially unaltered since deposition

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shale

shaley or less commonly shaly \ ˈshā-​lē How to pronounce shaly (audio) \ adjective

Examples of shale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

WildHorse had focused on the northeastern portion of the Eagle Ford shale. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Concho sells Permian assets to Houston's Spur Energy for $925M," 3 Sep. 2019 Thousands of feet below the river are thick layers of salt and seams of shale and hard rock that encompass eons of geological evolution. Keith Schneider, ProPublica, "West Virginia Bets Big on Plastics, and on Backing of Trump Administration," 31 July 2019 But many smaller businesses, including those that pioneered shale drilling, don’t have the money or technical expertise to make similar changes. Clifford Krauss,, "US oil companies find energy independence isn’t so profitable," 30 June 2019 Those rocks, layers of shale, are the remains of living things that did not completely decompose, which hints that there was little oxygen to power the tiny creatures that gobble up just about everything. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Did plants cause one of Earth’s great extinctions?," 3 Mar. 2018 Naphtha competes with natural gas liquids, and supply of the latter has also surged, largely as a by-product of the shale boom. Washington Post, "Oil’s 2019 Weakness Has Roots in 2018’s Strength," 18 Sep. 2019 Comstock is looking to further strengthen its position in the Haynesville, a gassy shale play split between Texas and Louisiana. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Drilling Down: Jerry Jones-owned company looking for natural gas in East Texas," 16 Sep. 2019 Methane released from shale gas production has a slightly different chemical fingerprint compared to methane from cow burps (not farts as commonly believed) and wetlands. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere," 15 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, with large parts of North America and Europe hitting record summer temperatures in recent weeks, know this: the shale boom is still on, and oil and gas production jumped nearly across the board in the quarter to June. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "Producing More, Profiting Less: Energy Company Earnings Suffer in the Gas Glut Era," 2 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of shale

1747, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shale

probably from obsolete or dialect shale scale, shell, from Middle English, from Old English scealu — more at shell

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shale

Statistics for shale

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shale

The first known use of shale was in 1747

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shale



English Language Learners Definition of shale

: a soft kind of rock that splits easily into flat pieces


\ ˈshāl How to pronounce shale (audio) \

Kids Definition of shale

: a rock with a fine grain formed from clay, mud, or silt

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shale

Spanish Central: Translation of shale

Nglish: Translation of shale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shale for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shale

Comments on shale

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


involving a confidence or trust

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Word Puzzles

  • alt 57589b2b4c6a3
  • Which answer pairs best with each of the following words? living, estate, club, music, road, mile
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!