adjective Printing.

noting or pertaining to an ornamented type in which the embellishment is outside the character, especially one in which a black line at one side and at the top or bottom gives the effect of a cast shadow.

Origin of shadowed

1350–1400 in general sense; Middle English; see shadow, -ed2
Related formsself-shad·owed, adjective




a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light.
shade or comparative darkness, as in an area.
shadows, darkness, especially that coming after sunset.
shelter; protection: sanctuary in the shadow of the church.
a slight suggestion; trace: beyond the shadow of a doubt.
a specter or ghost: pursued by shadows.
a hint or faint, indistinct image or idea; intimation: shadows of things to come.
a mere semblance: the shadow of power.
a reflected image.
(in painting, drawing, graphics, etc.)
  1. the representation of the absence of light on a form.
  2. the dark part of a picture, especially as representing the absence of illumination: Rembrandt's figures often emerge gradually from the shadows.
(in architectural shades and shadows) a dark figure or image cast by an object or part of an object upon a surface that would otherwise be illuminated by the theoretical light source.Compare shade(def 16).
a period or instance of gloom, unhappiness, mistrust, doubt, dissension, or the like, as in friendship or one's life: Their relationship was not without shadows.
a dominant or pervasive threat, influence, or atmosphere, especially one causing gloom, fear, doubt, or the like: They lived under the shadow of war.
an inseparable companion: The dog was his shadow.
a person who follows another in order to keep watch upon that person, as a spy or detective.

verb (used with object)

to overspread with shadow; shade.
to cast a gloom over; cloud: The incident shadowed their meeting.
to screen or protect from light, heat, etc.; shade.
to follow (a person) about secretly, in order to keep watch over his movements.
to represent faintly, prophetically, etc. (often followed by forth).
Archaic. to shelter or protect.
Archaic. to shade in painting, drawing, etc.


of or relating to a shadow cabinet.
without official authority: a shadow government.

Origin of shadow

before 900; (noun) Middle English sch(e)adew(e), schadow, shadw(e), Old English scead(u)we, oblique case of sceadu shade; (v.) Middle English; Old English sceadwian to protect, cover, overshadow, derivative of the noun; compare Old Saxon skadowan, skadoian, Gothic -skadwjan
Related formsshad·ow·er, nounshad·ow·less, adjectiveshad·ow·like, adjectivepre·shad·ow, noun, verb (used with object)

Synonym study

1. See shade. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shadowed

Contemporary Examples of shadowed

Historical Examples of shadowed

  • "I'm afraid not," she said, with a smile of shadowed sadness.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • I did not recognise my eyes, accustomed as I was to see them shadowed by my hair.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Leave them as part of a cruel, evil, shadowed time, which must be put behind us.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • His life was shadowed by suspicions of his wife, with whom he constantly quarrelled.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • There were thousands like her because of their shadowed inheritance.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

British Dictionary definitions for shadowed



a dark image or shape cast on a surface by the interception of light rays by an opaque body
an area of relative darkness
the dark portions of a picture
a hint, image, or faint semblancebeyond a shadow of a doubt
a remnant or vestigea shadow of one's past self
a reflection
a threatening influence; blighta shadow over one's happiness
a spectre
an inseparable companion
a person who trails another in secret, such as a detective
med a dark area on an X-ray film representing an opaque structure or part
(in Jungian psychology) the archetype that represents man's animal ancestors
archaic, or rare protection or shelter
(modifier) British designating a member or members of the main opposition party in Parliament who would hold ministerial office if their party were in powershadow Chancellor; shadow cabinet

verb (tr)

to cast a shadow over
to make dark or gloomy; blight
to shade from light
to follow or trail secretly
(often foll by forth) to represent vaguely
painting drawing another word for shade (def. 13)
Derived Formsshadower, nounshadowless, adjective

Word Origin for shadow

Old English sceadwe, oblique case of sceadu shade; related to Dutch schaduw
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 shadowed



Old English sceadwe, sceaduwe "the effect of interception of sunlight, dark image cast by someone or something when interposed between an object and a source of light," oblique cases ("to the," "from the," "of the," "in the") of sceadu (see shade (n.)). Shadow is to shade (n.) as meadow is to mead (n.2). Cf. Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch schaeduwe, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German schatten, Gothic skadus "shadow, shade."

From mid-13c. as "darkened area created by shadows, shade." From early 13c. in sense "anything unreal;" mid-14c. as "a ghost;" late 14c. as "a foreshadowing, prefiguration." Meaning "imitation, copy" is from 1690s. Sense of "the faintest trace" is from 1580s; that of "a spy who follows" is from 1859.

As a designation of members of an opposition party chosen as counterparts of the government in power, it is recorded from 1906. Shadow of Death (c.1200) translates Vulgate umbra mortis (Ps. xxiii:4, etc.), which itself translates Greek skia thanatou, perhaps a mistranslation of a Hebrew word for "intense darkness." In "Beowulf," Gendel is a sceadugenga, a shadow-goer, and another word for "darkness" is sceaduhelm. To be afraid of one's (own) shadow "be very timorous" is from 1580s.



Middle English schadowen, Kentish ssedwi, from late Old English sceadwian "to protect as with covering wings" (cf. also overshadow), from the root of shadow (n.). Cf. Old Saxon skadoian, Dutch schaduwen, Old High German scatewen, German (über)schatten. From mid-14c. as "provide shade;" late 14c. as "cast a shadow over" (literal and figurative), from early 15c. as "darken" (in illustration, etc.). Meaning "to follow like a shadow" is from c.1600 in an isolated instance; not attested again until 1872. Related: Shadowed; shadowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shadowed


In addition to the idiom beginning with shadow

  • shadow of one's self

also see:

  • afraid of one's own shadow
  • beyond a (shadow of a) doubt
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.