beat all hollow, to surpass or outdo completely: His performance beat the others all hollow.Also beat hollow.

Origin of hollow

before 900; Middle English holw(e), holow, Old English holh a hollow place; akin to hole
Related formshol·low·ly, adverbhol·low·ness, nounhalf-hol·low, adjectiveun·hol·low, adjectiveun·hol·lowed, adjective

Synonyms for hollow Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hollow

Contemporary Examples of hollow

Historical Examples of hollow

  • "He had a gun shoved into the hollow of his throat," said Andy.

  • But see the church in the hollow, and the folk who cluster in the churchyard!

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Even the fertile vale, in the hollow of which it lay, had ceased to have existence.

    The Miraculous Pitcher

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Bein' born on Hollow eve,' says he, 'I couldn't be nothin' else.

  • It forms a speaking telegraph without the necessity of any hollow tube.'

British Dictionary definitions for hollow



having a hole, cavity, or space within; not solid
having a sunken area; concave
recessed or deeply sethollow cheeks
(of sounds) as if resounding in a hollow place
without substance or validity
hungry or empty
insincere; cynical
a hollow leg or hollow legs the capacity to eat or drink a lot without ill effects


beat someone hollow British informal to defeat someone thoroughly and convincingly


a cavity, opening, or space in or within something
a depression or dip in the land

verb (often foll by out, usually when tr)

to make or become hollow
to form (a hole, cavity, etc) or (of a hole, etc) to be formed
Derived Formshollowly, adverbhollowness, noun

Word Origin for hollow

C12: from holu, inflected form of Old English holh cave; related to Old Norse holr, German hohl; see hole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hollow

c.1200, from Old English holh (n.) "hollow place, hole," from Proto-Germanic *hul-, from PIE *kel- "to cover, conceal" (see cell). The figurative sense of "insincere" is attested from 1520s. Related: Hollowly; hollowness. To carry it hollow "take it completely" is first recorded 1660s, of unknown origin or connection.


late 14c., holowen, from hollow (adj.). Related: Hollowed; hollowing.


"lowland, valley, basin," 1550s, probably a modern formation from hollow (adj.). Old English had holh (n.) "cave, den; internal cavity."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hollow


see beat the pants off (hollow).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.