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See more synonyms for shallow on Thesaurus.com
adjective, shal·low·er, shal·low·est.
  1. of little depth; not deep: shallow water.
  2. lacking depth; superficial: a mind that is not narrow but shallow.
  3. taking in a relatively small amount of air in each inhalation: shallow breathing.
  4. Baseball. relatively close to home plate: The shortstop caught the pop fly in shallow left field.
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  1. Usually shallows. (used with a singular or plural verb) a shallow part of a body of water; shoal.
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  1. Baseball. at a shallow position: With the pitcher up, the outfielders played shallow.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become shallow.
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Origin of shallow

1350–1400; Middle English schalowe (adj.); akin to Old English sceald shallow (see shoal1)
Related formsshal·low·ly, adverbshal·low·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

flat, trivial, empty, hollow, foolish, frothy, shelf, slight, surface, shoal, trifling, petty, simple, flimsy, piddling, idle, lightweight, cursory, superficial, unsound

Examples from the Web for shallow

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • These he drove firmly into the soft bottom of a shallow lake.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • He was in a shallow basin which luckily pointed in the right direction for him.

  • The shallow water of the lagoon ran into gold-tipped ripples.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • In every shallow ravine were groves of tree ferns forty feet tall.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Below this opening was a shallow basin into which the rainwater fell.

British Dictionary definitions for shallow


  1. having little depth
  2. lacking intellectual or mental depth or subtlety; superficial
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  1. (often plural) a shallow place in a body of water; shoal
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  1. to make or become shallow
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Derived Formsshallowly, adverbshallowness, noun

Word Origin

C15: related to Old English sceald shallow; see shoal 1
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 shallow


c.1400, schalowe "not deep," probably from or related to Old English sceald (see shoal (n.)). Of breathing, attested from 1875; of thought or feeling, "superficial," first recorded 1580s. The noun, usually shallows, is first recorded 1570s, from the adjective.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper