1 [shohl]
a place where a sea, river, or other body of water is shallow.
a sandbank or sand bar in the bed of a body of water, especially one that is exposed above the surface of the water at low tide.
of little depth, as water; shallow.
verb (used without object)
to become shallow or more shallow.
verb (used with object)
to cause to become shallow.
Nautical. to sail so as to lessen the depth of (the water under a vessel).

before 900; (adj.) Middle English (Scots) shald, Old English sceald shallow; (noun and v.) derivative of the adj.

1. shallow, rapid, riffle. 2. reef. Unabridged


2 [shohl]
any large number of persons or things.
a school of fish.
verb (used without object)
to collect in a shoal; throng.

1570–80; earlier shole, probably < Middle Dutch, Middle Low German schōle, with sound-substitution of sh- for Low German skh-; cf. school2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
shoal1 (ʃəʊl)
1.  a stretch of shallow water
2.  a sandbank or rocky area in a stretch of water, esp one that is visible at low water
3.  to make or become shallow
4.  (intr) nautical to sail into shallower water
5.  a less common word for shallow
6.  nautical (of the draught of a vessel) drawing little water
[Old English scealdshallow]

shoal2 (ʃəʊl)
1.  a large group of certain aquatic animals, esp fish
2.  a large group of people or things
3.  (intr) to collect together in such a group
[Old English scolu; related to Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schōleschool²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"place of shallow water," c.1300, from O.E. schealde (adj.), from sceald "shallow," from P.Gmc. *skala- (cf. Swed. skäll "thin;" Low Ger. schol, Fris. skol "not deep"). The terminal -d was dropped 16c.

"large number" (especially of fish), 1579, apparently identical with O.E. scolu "band, troop, school of fish," but perhaps rather a 16c. adoption of cognate M.Du. schole, both from P.Gmc. *skulo- (cf. O.S. scola "multitude," W.Fris. skoal), perhaps with a lit. sense of "division," from PIE base *skel-
"to divide." Related to school "a crowd of fish" (q.v.). For possible sense development, cf. section from L. secare "to cut."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
shoal   (shōl)  Pronunciation Key 
A submerged mound or ridge of sediment in a body of shallow water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


accumulation of sediment in a river channel or on a continental shelf that is potentially dangerous to ships. On the continental shelf it is conventionally taken to be less than 10 m (33 feet) below water level at low tide. Shoals are formed by essentially the same factors that produce offshore bars. See sandbar.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Actually, minimal number of fish in a shoal which must know how to find food is always constant.
She pointed to a shoal where water came over rocks in a lip of white foam.
He is now making a robot predator to see how the shoal reacts to less benign intruders.
The leader of the pod catches the telltale speckled light of armored squid, moving in an immense shoal a thousand strong.
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