shallows; shallower; shallowest; shallowing; shallowed

The adjective shallow can describe things that aren't very deep, like a shallow puddle, or people who don't have much emotional or intellectual depth, like shallow people who judge others on their looks and how much money they have.

Shallow likely comes from the Old English word sceald, which means "shoal," the water near a shoreline. So, shallow describes something that is close to the surface — like the shallow roots of a newly-planted tree or a person whose interest in someone or something isn't very deep. For instance, a shallow person might go to the opening of a new art exhibition not so much to see the artworks as meet the wealthy people on the museum's board of trustees.

Definitions of shallow
  1. adjective
    lacking physical depth; having little spatial extension downward or inward from an outer surface or backward or outward from a center
    shallow water”
    “a shallow dish”
    “a shallow cut”
    “a shallow closet”
    “established a shallow beachhead”
    “hit the ball to shallow left field”
    ankle-deep, knee-deep
    coming only to the ankle or knee
    shallow enough to be crossed by walking or riding on an animal or in a vehicle
    relating to the region of shallow water adjoining the seacoast
    reefy, shelfy, shelvy, shoaly
    full of submerged reefs or sandbanks or shoals
    see moresee less
    having great spatial extension or penetration downward or inward from an outer surface or backward or laterally or outward from a center; sometimes used in combination
    abysmal, abyssal, unfathomable
    resembling an abyss in depth; so deep as to be unmeasurable
    extremely deep
    of or carried on in waters of great depth
    profound, unfathomed, unplumbed, unsounded
    situated at or extending to great depth; too deep to have been sounded or plumbed
    (of e.g. closets or refrigerators) extending very far enough back to allow a person to enter
    of depth; not capable of being sounded or measured
    show more antonyms...
  2. adjective
    lacking depth of intellect or knowledge; concerned only with what is obvious
    shallow people”
    “his arguments seemed shallow and tedious”
    concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually
  3. adjective
    not deep or strong; not affecting one deeply
    shallow breathing”
    “a night of shallow fretful sleep”
    “in a shallow trance”
    light, wakeful
    (of sleep) easily disturbed
    see moresee less
    relatively deep or strong; affecting one deeply
    heavy, profound, sound, wakeless
    (of sleep) deep and complete
    coming from deep within one
    show more antonyms...
  4. noun
    a stretch of shallow water
    synonyms: shoal
    see moresee less
    type of:
    body of water, water
    the part of the earth's surface covered with water (such as a river or lake or ocean)
  5. verb
    make shallow
    “The silt shallowed the canal”
    synonyms: shoal
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  6. verb
    become shallow
    “the lake shallowed over time”
    synonyms: shoal
    see moresee less
    type of:
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘shallow'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up shallow for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer