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. 2019

Examples from the Web for shallowness

Contemporary Examples of shallowness

  • The shallowness of the Obama white paper, issued last June, is now only too obvious.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Looming Banking Battle

    Jeff Madrick

    November 12, 2009

Historical Examples of shallowness

  • Their freshness soon withered, on account of the shallowness of the earth.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • All that I have seen of life only shows the shallowness of what is called the public service.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • Shallowness has this advantage, that you can't be drowned there.'

  • And here the depth or shallowness of our theology will be sure to tell.

  • She felt a sort of bitter shame over her own shallowness of feeling.

    Robert Elsmere

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

British Dictionary definitions for shallowness



having little depth
lacking intellectual or mental depth or subtlety; superficial


(often plural) a shallow place in a body of water; shoal


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 shallowness



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