• synonyms


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

Examples from the Web for shallowly

Historical Examples

  • In popular thought forgiveness is often shallowly conceived.

    The Meaning of Faith

    Harry Emerson Fosdick

  • The bark varies from dark red to gray and is shallowly fissured or scaly.

    Michigan Trees

    Charles Herbert Otis

  • For some hours I slept, but so shallowly that I heard my own voice gabbling in dreams.

    Memoirs of a Midget

    Walter de la Mare

  • She was breathing raggedly and shallowly, eyes wide and incredulous.

    Lion Loose

    James H. Schmitz

  • They are white, yellow or red in colour, and shallowly cup-shaped.

British Dictionary definitions for shallowly


  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 shallowly



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