a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light.
shade or comparative darkness, as in an area.
shadows, darkness, especially that coming after sunset.
shelter; protection: sanctuary in the shadow of the church.
a slight suggestion; trace: beyond the shadow of a doubt.
a specter or ghost: pursued by shadows.
a hint or faint, indistinct image or idea; intimation: shadows of things to come.
a mere semblance: the shadow of power.
a reflected image.
the representation of the absence of light on a form.
the dark part of a picture, especially as representing the absence of illumination: Rembrandt's figures often emerge gradually from the shadows.
(in architectural shades and shadows) a dark figure or image cast by an object or part of an object upon a surface that would otherwise be illuminated by the theoretical light source. Compare shade ( def 16 ).
a period or instance of gloom, unhappiness, mistrust, doubt, dissension, or the like, as in friendship or one's life: Their relationship was not without shadows.
a dominant or pervasive threat, influence, or atmosphere, especially one causing gloom, fear, doubt, or the like: They lived under the shadow of war.
an inseparable companion: The dog was his shadow.
a person who follows another in order to keep watch upon that person, as a spy or detective.
verb (used with object)
to overspread with shadow; shade.
to cast a gloom over; cloud: The incident shadowed their meeting.
to screen or protect from light, heat, etc.; shade.
to follow (a person) about secretly, in order to keep watch over his movements.
to represent faintly, prophetically, etc. (often followed by forth ).
Archaic. to shelter or protect.
Archaic. to shade in painting, drawing, etc.
of or pertaining to a shadow cabinet.
without official authority: a shadow government.

before 900; (noun) Middle English sch(e)adew(e), schadow, shadw(e), Old English scead(u)we, oblique case of sceadu shade; (v.) Middle English; Old English sceadwian to protect, cover, overshadow, derivative of the noun; compare Old Saxon skadowan, skadoian, Gothic -skadwjan

shadower, noun
shadowless, adjective
shadowlike, adjective
preshadow, noun, verb (used with object)

1. See shade. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shadow (ˈʃædəʊ)
1.  a dark image or shape cast on a surface by the interception of light rays by an opaque body
2.  an area of relative darkness
3.  the dark portions of a picture
4.  a hint, image, or faint semblance: beyond a shadow of a doubt
5.  a remnant or vestige: a shadow of one's past self
6.  a reflection
7.  a threatening influence; blight: a shadow over one's happiness
8.  a spectre
9.  an inseparable companion
10.  a person who trails another in secret, such as a detective
11.  med a dark area on an X-ray film representing an opaque structure or part
12.  (in Jungian psychology) the archetype that represents man's animal ancestors
13.  archaic, rare or protection or shelter
14.  (Brit) (modifier) designating a member or members of the main opposition party in Parliament who would hold ministerial office if their party were in power: shadow Chancellor; shadow cabinet
15.  to cast a shadow over
16.  to make dark or gloomy; blight
17.  to shade from light
18.  to follow or trail secretly
19.  (often foll by forth) to represent vaguely
20.  painting, drawing another word for shade
[Old English sceadwe, oblique case of sceadushade; related to Dutch schaduw]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. sceadwe, sceaduwe, oblique cases of sceadu (see shade). As a designation of members of an opposition party chosen as counterparts of the government in power, it is recorded from 1906. Shadow of Death (Ps. xxiii:4, etc.) is Gk. skia thanatou, perhaps a mistranslation of
a Heb. word for "intense darkness."

late O.E. sceadwian "to protect as with covering wings" (cf. also overshadow), from the root of shadow (n.). Meaning "to follow like a shadow" is from c.1600 in an isolated instance; not attested again until 1872.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

SHADOW definition

A syntax-directed compiler written by Barnett and Futrelle in 1962. It was the predecessor to SNOBOL(?)
[Sammet 1969, p. 448, 605].

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Bible Dictionary

Shadow definition

used in Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1 to denote the typical relation of the Jewish to the Christian dispensation.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with shadow, also see afraid of one's own shadow; beyond a (shadow of a) doubt.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
But the image taken on his side showed a dark, crescent-shaped shadow of air that clearly was not in the intestines.
It has also scuttled chunks of the intelligence edifice that cast a long, dark shadow over its smaller neighbour.
The dark blob of shadow at the top is from his large mortar and pestle sign.
Incredibly, twice a year on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls on
  the pyramid in the shape of a serpent.
Image for shadow
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