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.
  1. Usually shallows. (used with a singular or plural verb) a shallow part of a body of water; shoal.
  1. Baseball. at a shallow position: With the pitcher up, the outfielders played shallow.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become shallow.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shallowest

Historical Examples of shallowest

  • The shallowest of them might ask a hearing—he dared not for his dishonored honor's sake.


    Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • As a matter of fact, words are, as a rule, the shallowest portion of all the argument.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • The river was now at its shallowest, and the men were able to pole the boat across.

    The Dash for Khartoum

    George Alfred Henty

  • When I put in my stick, however, I could not fathom it—and this at the shallowest part.

    In the Rocky Mountains

    W. H. G. Kingston

  • You could not have seen the pollywogs in the shallowest places along the margin.

    Rollo in Geneva

    Jacob Abbott

British Dictionary definitions for shallowest


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

Word Origin for shallow

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 shallowest



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper