from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An area that is not or is only partially irradiated or illuminated because of the interception of radiation by an opaque object between the area and the source of radiation.
  • n. The rough image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination. See Synonyms at shade.
  • n. An imperfect imitation or copy.
  • n. The darkness following sunset.
  • n. A feeling or cause of gloom or unhappiness: The argument cast a shadow on their friendship.
  • n. A nearby or adjoining region; vicinity: grew up in the shadow of the ballpark.
  • n. A dominating presence or influence: spent years working in the shadow of the lab director.
  • n. A darkened area of skin under the eye. Often used in the plural.
  • n. An incipient growth of beard that makes the skin look darker.
  • n. A shaded area in a picture or photograph.
  • n. A mirrored image or reflection.
  • n. A phantom; a ghost.
  • n. One, such as a detective or spy, that follows or trails another.
  • n. A constant companion.
  • n. Sports A player who guards an opponent closely.
  • n. A faint indication; a foreshadowing.
  • n. A vestige or inferior form: shadows of their past achievements.
  • n. An insignificant portion or amount; a trace: beyond a shadow of a doubt.
  • n. Shelter; protection: under the shadow of their corporate sponsor.
  • transitive v. To cast a shadow on; shade.
  • transitive v. To make gloomy or dark; cloud.
  • transitive v. To represent vaguely, mysteriously, or prophetically.
  • transitive v. To darken in a painting or drawing; shade in.
  • transitive v. To follow, especially in secret; trail.
  • transitive v. Sports To guard (an opponent) closely throughout the playing area, especially in ice hockey.
  • intransitive v. To change by gradual degrees.
  • intransitive v. To become clouded over as if with shadows: Her face shadowed with sorrow.
  • adj. Not having official status: a shadow government of exiled leaders; a shadow cabinet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dark image projected onto a surface where light is blocked by the shade of an object.
  • n. Relative darkness, especially as caused by the interruption of light; gloom, obscurity.
  • n. That which looms as though a shadow.
  • n. Merely a hint of substance.
  • n. One who secretly or furtively follows another.
  • n. A type of lettering form of word processors that makes a cubic effect.
  • n. An influence, especially a pervasive or a negative one.
  • v. To block light or radio transmission.
  • v. To secretly or discreetly track or follow another, to keep under surveillance.
  • v. To make an identifier, usually a variable, inaccessible by declaring another of the same name within the scope of the first.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Shade within defined limits; obscurity or deprivation of light, apparent on a surface, and representing the form of the body which intercepts the rays of light. See the Note under shade, n., 1.
  • n. Darkness; shade; obscurity.
  • n. A shaded place; shelter; protection; security.
  • n. A reflected image, as in a mirror or in water.
  • n. That which follows or attends a person or thing like a shadow; an inseparable companion; hence, an obsequious follower.
  • n. A spirit; a ghost; a shade; a phantom.
  • n. An imperfect and faint representation; adumbration; indistinct image; dim bodying forth; hence, mystical representation; type.
  • n. A small degree; a shade.
  • n. An uninvited guest coming with one who is invited.
  • transitive v. To cut off light from; to put in shade; to shade; to throw a shadow upon; to overspead with obscurity.
  • transitive v. To conceal; to hide; to screen.
  • transitive v. To protect; to shelter from danger; to shroud.
  • transitive v. To mark with gradations of light or color; to shade.
  • transitive v. To represent faintly or imperfectly; to adumbrate; hence, to represent typically.
  • transitive v. To cloud; to darken; to cast a gloom over.
  • transitive v. To attend as closely as a shadow; to follow and watch closely, especially in a secret or unobserved manner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cover or overspread with shade; throw into shade; cast a shadow over; shade.
  • To darken; cloud; obscure; bedim; tarnish.
  • To mark with or represent by shading; mark with slight gradations of color or light; shade; darken slightly.
  • To represent in a shadowy or figurative way; hence, to betoken; typify; foreshow: sometimes with forth or out.
  • To shelter; screen; hide; conceal; disguise.
  • To attend closely, like a shadow; follow about closely in a secret or unobserved manner: watch secretly and continuously: as, to shadow a criminal.
  • n. The fainter light and coolness caused by the interruption or interception of the rays of light and heat from the sun; shade.
  • n. plural Same as shade, 3.
  • n. Shade within defined limits; the dark figure or image projected by a body when it intercepts the light.
  • n. Anything which, follows or attends a person or thing like a shadow; an inseparable companion.
  • n. An uninvited guest introduced to a feast by one who is invited: a translation of the Latin umbra.
  • n. A reflected image, as in it mirror or in water; hence, any image or portrait.
  • n. The dark part of a picture; shade; representation of comparative deficiency or absence of light.
  • n. Type; mystical representation. Compare eidolon and paradigm.
  • n. An imperfect and faint representation; adumbration; a prefiguration; a foreshowing; a dim bodying forth.
  • n. The faintest trace; a slight or faint appearance: as, without a shadow of doubt.
  • n. Disguise; pretext; subterfuge.
  • n. Anything unsubstantial or unreal, though having the deceptive appearance of reality; an image produced by the imagination.
  • n. A phantom; a shade; a spirit; a ghost.
  • n. A shaded or shady spot or place; an obscure, secluded, or quiet retreat.
  • n. Shade; retirement; privacy; quiet; rest.
  • n. Shelter; cover; protection; security.
  • n. That which shades, shelters, or protects, as from light or heat; specifically, a sunshade, a parasol, or a wide-brimmed hat for women.
  • n. A light four-cornered sail used by yachts in fair winds.
  • n. In entomology, a very slight and undefined darker color on a light ground, as on the wings of Lepidoptera
  • n. Synonyms See shade.
  • n. In algebra, an umbral letter or symbol having no meaning apart from another sort of letter or symbol to which it assigns a property, and therefore not to be written alone.
  • n. Same as shadow corpuscle. See phantom corpuscle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make appear small by comparison
  • n. an inseparable companion
  • n. shade within clear boundaries
  • n. an unilluminated area
  • n. something existing in perception only
  • n. refuge from danger or observation
  • n. an indication that something has been present
  • n. a spy employed to follow someone and report their movements
  • v. cast a shadow over
  • v. follow, usually without the person's knowledge
  • n. a dominating and pervasive presence
  • n. a premonition of something adverse


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English sceaduwe, oblique case of sceadu, shade, shadow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English schadowe, schadewe, schadwe (also schade > shade), from Old English sceaduwe, sceadwe, oblique form of sceadu ("shadow, shade; darkness; protection"), from Proto-Germanic *skaduz, *skadwaz (“shade, shadow”), from Proto-Indo-European *skot- (“darkness”). Cognate with Scots scaddow, schaddow ("shadow"), Saterland Frisian Skaad ("shade, shadow"), Dutch schaduw ("shadow"), German Schatten ("shadow, shade"), Norwegian skodde ("fog, mist"), Irish scáth ("shadow"), Ancient Greek σκότος (skótos, "darkness, gloom").


  • Washington having alluded, as he was fond of doing, to the rest he had at last secured for the remnant of his life, as he thought, under the shadow of his own vine and fig-tree, Rochambeau in his answer courteously and sincerely compliments him on the “philosophical” but not definitive quiet he now enjoys under the shadow— “of his laurel-tree.

    Rochambeau and the French in America. I. From Unpublished Documents. IX

  • As I passed across the edge of the shadow of the trees -- the ground ahead being brilliantly illuminated by the light of the comet -- I suddenly noticed, with an involuntary start, that I was being preceded by a _double shadow_, with a black center, which forked away from my feet.

    The Second Deluge

  • IV. ii.26 (213,5) Haply, you shall not see me more; or if,/A mangled shadow] _Or if_ you see me more, you will see me _a mangled shadow_, only the external form of what I was.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies

  • The woman here, her face lost in shadow, is someone I would like to learn about.

    Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » The marrow of storytelling

  • The first time you were with Mr. Yorke; and the second time what you call your shadow was a shape with a white forehead and dark curls, and a sparkling necklace round its neck; but I only just got a glimpse of you and that fairy shadow: I did not wait to hear you converse. '

    Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte

  • "Now those vehicle usage payments - I've heard them described as a shadow toll, I've probably even used the term shadow toll myself in the past - they are not really a direct shadow toll because we don't get an amount of money for every vehicle that uses the road," he said.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • My bag is the line drawn between light and dark and at least in this one instance the word 'shadow' seems to be exactly the one I've been looking for.


  • From the spiritual perspective, the shadow is a subtler aspect of the divided self.

    Deepak Chopra: How to Dispel Darkness (Part 2)

  • There's a huge overhang of what we call shadow inventory, which are homes that are either owned by the banks and not put on the market or that speculators and investors had purchased and they're not defaulting on them yet, they're still carrying.

    Economist: Now Not The Time To Buy A House

  • One definition of a shadow is a region where light is blocked.

    Lorca’s The Song of the Barren Orange Tree : Jeffrey McDaniel : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Can someone use the last two verb forms of this word in a sentence?

    January 20, 2009

  • See shadow self.

    December 31, 2008

  • Mused one man: “I believe you would be onto something if you could turn your own shadow into a missing-person.�?

    --Jan Cox

    August 29, 2007