[ sheyl ]
/ ʃeɪl /


a rock of fissile or laminated structure formed by the consolidation of clay or argillaceous material.

Origin of shale

1740–50; origin uncertain; compare obsolete shale to split (said of stone), to shell, derivative of shale shell, husk, Old English scealu shell, husk; see scale2


shale·like, shal·ey, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for shale

British Dictionary definitions for shale

/ (ʃeɪl) /


a dark fine-grained laminated sedimentary rock formed by compression of successive layers of clay-rich sediment

Derived forms of shale

shaly, adjective

Word Origin for shale

Old English scealu shell; compare German Schalstein laminated limestone; see scale 1, scale ²
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

Scientific definitions for shale

[ shāl ]

A fine-grained sedimentary rock consisting of compacted and hardened clay, silt, or mud. Shale forms in many distinct layers and splits easily into thin sheets or slabs. It varies in color from black or gray to brown or red.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for shale


A sedimentary rock formed from layers of clay.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.