Definition of shadow noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary




dark shape

1 [countable] the dark shape that someone or something's form makes on a surface, for example on the ground, when they or it are between the light and the surfaceThe children were having fun, chasing each other's shadows.The ship's sail cast a shadow on the water.The shadows lengthened as the sun went down.(figurative)He didn't want to cast a shadow on (= spoil) their happiness. note at shade


2 [uncountable] also shadows [plural] darkness in a place or on something, especially so that you cannot easily see who or what is thereHis face was lost in shadow, turned away from her.I thought I saw a figure standing in the shadows.

small amount

3 [singular] shadow of something a very small amount of something synonym hintA shadow of a smile touched his mouth.She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt (= with no doubt at all) that he was lying.


4 [singular] shadow of someone/something the strong (usually bad) influence of someone or somethingThe new leader wants to escape from the shadow of his predecessor.These people have been living for years under the shadow of fear.

under eyes

5 shadows [plural] dark areas under someone's eyes, because they are tired, etc.She looked pale, with deep shadows under her eyes.

someone that follows someone

6 [countable] a person or an animal that follows someone else all the time

something not real

7 [countable] a thing that is not real or possible to obtainYou can't spend all your life chasing shadows.
see also eyeshadow, five o'clock shadowIDIOMS

be afraid/scared of your own shadow

to be very easily frightened; to be very nervous
be afraid of your own shadowbe scared of your own shadow

be a shadow/ghost of your former self

to not have the strength, influence, etc. that you used to have
When his career ended, he became a shadow of his former a shadow of your former selfbe a ghost of your former self

in/under the shadow of

1 very close toThe new market is in the shadow of City Hall.2 when you say that someone is in/under the shadow of another person, you mean that they do not receive as much attention as that personA younger son often lives in the shadow of his elder the shadow ofunder the shadow of
Usage noteUsage note: shade shadowShade [U] is an area or a part of a place that is protected from the heat of the sun and so is darker and cooler: Let’s sit in the shade for a while.A shadow [C] is the dark shape made when a light shines on a person or an object: As the sun went down, we cast long shadows on the lawn.Shadow [U] is an area of darkness in which it is difficult to distinguish things easily: Her face was lost in shadow.