shoal

1 of 5

adjective

shoal

2 of 5

noun (1)

1
2
: a sandbank or sandbar that makes the water shallow

shoal

3 of 5

verb (1)

shoaled; shoaling; shoals

intransitive verb

: to become shallow

transitive verb

1
: to come to a shallow or less deep part of
2
: to cause to become shallow or less deep

shoal

4 of 5

noun (2)

: a large group or number : crowd
a shoal of fish

shoal

5 of 5

verb (2)

shoaled; shoaling; shoals

Examples of shoal in a Sentence

Adjective shoal waters of the bay meant that our ship had to be moored a considerable distance from shore
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
They were designed to ferry enormous loads in their holds, up and down the Thames and its nearby rivers and estuaries, in shallow, shoaling waters, subject to notorious tides and nervous wind. William Booth, Washington Post, 24 July 2023 At this point, the heat may be mixed back up to the surface by a combination of shoaling currents, upwelling and turbulent mixing. Noel Gutiérrez Brizuela, The Conversation, 20 June 2023
Noun
On multiple occasions, Chinese coast guard ships shot high-pressure jets of water at Philippine resupply boats, and last December and early March, boats from both countries have collided near the shoal. Emily Feng, NPR, 11 Apr. 2024 In the 1990s, the Philippines grounded an aging World War II-era navy transport ship on the shoal, to help enforce its claim to the area. Brad Lendon, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024 The shoal, occupied by Philippine navy personnel since the late 1990s, has recently become the backdrop for an increasingly tense territorial standoff with the Chinese coast guard. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 23 Mar. 2024 As recently as Saturday, Chinese Coast Guard ships fired water cannons at a Philippine boat conducting a lawful resupply mission to a Philippine military outpost at a contested shoal in the South China Sea. Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2024 The Philippines intentionally grounded an old warship at the shoal in 1999, as a means of bolstering its territorial claims and has kept a small contingent of military there ever since. Reuters, NBC News, 25 Mar. 2024 In the 1990s the Philippines grounded an aging World War II-era navy transport ship called the BRP Sierra Madre on the shoal, to help enforce its claim to the area. James Legge, CNN, 23 Mar. 2024 Indeed, though it’s been mistakenly labeled a rom-com by some, the series demonstrably darkens as not just Emma and Dexter’s friendship but also their career ambitions, family ties and romantic relationships hit the shoals of advancing adulthood. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2024 The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have also made territorial claims to some of the shoals. Rebecca Wright, CNN, 6 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shoal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

alteration of Middle English shold, from Old English sceald — more at skeleton

Noun (2)

Middle English *shole, from Old English scolu multitude — more at school

First Known Use

Adjective

circa 1554, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1574, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun (2)

1579, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1610, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shoal was circa 1554

Dictionary Entries Near shoal

Cite this Entry

“Shoal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shoal. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

shoal

1 of 3 adjective
: shallow entry 1 sense 1
shoal water

shoal

2 of 3 noun
1
: a place where a sea, lake, or river is shallow
2
: a sandbank or sandbar just below the surface of the water

shoal

3 of 3 noun
: school entry 3
a shoal of pilot fish
Etymology

Adjective

Old English sceald "shallow"

Noun

Old English scolu "great number"

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