What does shallow mean?

Definitions for shallow
ˈʃæl oʊshal·low

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word shallow.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. shoal, shallowadjective

    a stretch of shallow water

  2. shallowadjective

    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"

  3. shallowadjective

    not deep or strong; not affecting one deeply

    "shallow breathing"; "a night of shallow fretful sleep"; "in a shallow trance"

  4. shallowverb

    lacking depth of intellect or knowledge; concerned only with what is obvious

    "shallow people"; "his arguments seemed shallow and tedious"

  5. shallow, shoalverb

    make shallow

    "The silt shallowed the canal"

  6. shallow, shoalverb

    become shallow

    "the lake shallowed over time"


  1. shallownoun

    A shallow portion of an otherwise deep body of water.

    The ship ran aground in an unexpected shallow.

  2. shallowverb

    To make or become less deep

  3. shallowadjective

    Having little depth; significantly less deep than wide.

  4. shallowadjective

    Extending not far downward.

    The water is shallow here

  5. shallowadjective

    Concerned mainly with superficial matters.

    It was a glamorous but shallow lifestyle

  6. shallowadjective

    Lacking interest or substance.

    The acting is good, but the characters are shallow

  7. Etymology: Origin uncertain; apparently related to sceald.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Shallowadjective

    Etymology: This word is probably compounded of shoal and low.

    I had been drowned, but that the shore was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor. William Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Winds.

    That inundation, though it were shallow, had a long continuance, whereby they of the vale, that were not drowned, perished for want of food. Francis Bacon.

    The like opinion he held of Meotis Palus, that by the floods of Tanais, and earth brought down thereby, it grew observably shallower in his days, and would in process of time become a firm land. Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errours.

    I am made a shallow forded stream,
    Seen to the bottom: all my clearness scorn’d,
    And all my faults expos’d. John Dryden, All for Love.

    Shallow brooks, that flow’d so clear,
    The bottom did the top appear. Dryden.

    In shallow furrows vines securely grow. Dryden.

    I’ll shew my mind,
    According to my shallow simple skill. William Shakespeare.

    This is a very shallow monster:
    Afraid of him? A very shallow monster,
    The man i’ th’ moon! A most poor credulous monster. William Shakespeare.

    The king was neither so shallow nor so ill advertised as not to perceive the intention of the French king, for the investing himself of Britaigne. Francis Bacon, Henry VII.

    Uncertain and unsettled he remains,
    Deep verst in books, and shallow in himself. John Milton.

    One would no more wonder to see the most shallow nation of Europe the most vain, than to find the most empty fellows in every nation more conceited than the rest. Addison.

    If a virginal were made with a double concave, the one all the length of the virginal, and the other at the end of the strings, as the harp hath, it must make the sound perfecter, and not so shallow and jarring. Francis Bacon.

  2. Shallownoun

    A shelf; a sand; a flat; a shoal; a place where the water is not deep.

    Etymology: from the adjective.

    I should not see the sandy hour-glass run,
    But I should think of shallows and of flats;
    And see my wealthy Andrew dock’d in sand,
    Veiling her high top lower than her ribs,
    To kiss her burial. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    A swift stream is not heard in the channel, but upon shallows of gravel. Francis Bacon, Nat. History.

    Having but newly left those grammatick flats and shallows, where they stuck unreasonably, to learn a few words with lamentable construction, and now on the sudden transported, to be tost with their unballasted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, they do grow into hatred of learning. John Milton.

    You that so oft have sounded
    And fathom’d all his thoughts, that know the deeps
    And shallows of his heart, should need no instruments
    To advance your ends. John Denham.

    In arms of the sea, and among islands, there is no great depth, and some places are plain shallows. Burnet.

    He sounds and fathoms him, to find
    The shallows of his soul. John Dryden, Spanish Fryar.

    The wary Dutch
    Behind their treach’rous shallows now withdraw,
    And there lay snares to catch the British host. Dryden.

    Three more fierce Eurus in his angry mood
    Dash’d on the shallows of the moving sand,
    And in mid ocean left them moor’d a-land. John Dryden, Æn.

    Their spawn being lighter than the water, there it would not sink to the bottom, but be buoyed up by it, and carried away to the shallows. John Ray, on the Creation.

    With the use of diligence, and prudent conduct, he may decline both rocks and shallows. John Norris.

    The sea could not be much narrower than it is, without a great loss to the world; and must we now have an ocean of mere flats and shallows, to the utter ruin of navigation? Richard Bentley.


  1. Shallow

    Shallow is a song performed by American singer Lady Gaga and American actor and filmmaker Bradley Cooper. It was released through Interscope Records on September 27, 2018 as the lead single from the soundtrack of the 2018 musical romantic drama film, A Star Is Born. "Shallow" was written by Gaga with Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando and Mark Ronson, and produced by Gaga with Benjamin Rice. The song is heard three times throughout the film, most prominently during a sequence when Cooper's character Jackson Maine invites Gaga's character Ally to perform it onstage with him. The scene was filmed in front of a live audience at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, California. "Shallow" is a pivotal moment in A Star Is Born, since it speaks about Ally and Jackson's conversations. Gaga wrote it from Ally's point of view with the self-aware lyrics asking each other if they are content being who they are. A rock power ballad, the song finds Gaga and Cooper trading verses and gradually moves toward the climactic final chorus with a vocal run by Gaga. The recording is interspersed with the sound of audience noise and applause. Gaga premiered it on DJ Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show while giving an interview about the film. An accompanying music video was also released, showing both Gaga and Cooper's characters singing "Shallow" together onstage, interspersed with scenes from A Star Is Born.


  1. shallow

    Shallow generally refers to having a limited depth, both physically and metaphorically. In a physical context, it can refer to something that lacks depth or is not deep, such as a shallow pool or a shallow grave. In a metaphorical sense, it often refers to a person's lack of depth in their thoughts, emotions, or relationships. A shallow person may be characterized as superficial, focusing more on external appearances rather than underlying qualities or deeper connections.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Shallow

    not deep; having little depth; shoal

  2. Shallow

    not deep in tone

  3. Shallow

    not intellectually deep; not profound; not penetrating deeply; simple; not wise or knowing; ignorant; superficial; as, a shallow mind; shallow learning

  4. Shallownoun

    a place in a body of water where the water is not deep; a shoal; a flat; a shelf

  5. Shallownoun

    the rudd

  6. Shallowverb

    to make shallow

  7. Shallowverb

    to become shallow, as water

  8. Etymology: [OE. schalowe, probably originally, sloping or shelving; cf. Icel. skjlgr wry, squinting, AS. sceolh, D. & G. scheel, OHG. schelah. Cf. Shelve to slope, Shoal shallow.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Shallow

    shal′ō, n. a sandbank: a place over which the water is not deep: a shoal.—adj. not deep: not profound: not wise: trifling.—v.t. to make shallow.—v.i. to grow shallow.—adjs. Shall′ow-brained, -pā′ted, weak in intellect; Shall′ow-heart′ed, not capable of deep feelings.—adv. Shall′owly (Shak.), simply, foolishly.—n. Shall′owness. [Scand., Ice. skjálgr, wry; cf. Ger. scheel.]

Suggested Resources

  1. shallow

    Song lyrics by shallow -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by shallow on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Shallow is ranked #30889 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Shallow surname appeared 753 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Shallow.

    81.2% or 612 total occurrences were White.
    16% or 121 total occurrences were Black.
    1% or 8 total occurrences were Asian.
    1% or 8 total occurrences were of two or more races.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'shallow' in Adjectives Frequency: #757

How to pronounce shallow?

How to say shallow in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of shallow in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of shallow in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of shallow in a Sentence

  1. Henry David Thoreau:

    Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains.

  2. Oscar Wilde:

    Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

  3. Gustavo Hernandez:

    A lot of companies have approached Pemex because we have knowledge of the shallow water basin with more than 40 years of exploration and 35 years of production.

  4. John Boyd Jr.:

    The Cuban ports, including Havana, are all too shallow to accommodate the large modern ships of major cruise lines, also, some Cuban ports are inland, necessitating negotiating unmapped, narrow channels ….

  5. Peter Marosszeky:

    The seas haven’t been very friendly, but the black boxes have a 30-day life and they will be able to find them, particularly in the shallow waters, it’s the weather that is causing the delay.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for shallow

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"shallow." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 10 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/shallow>.

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    difficult or impossible to perceive or discern
    • A. unsealed
    • B. aculeate
    • C. indiscernible
    • D. foreordained

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