Hollow vs. Shallow: What's the Difference?
"Hollow" refers to a space or void inside something, while "Shallow" describes a lack of depth or superficiality.
"Hollow" and "Shallow" are both terms that pertain to depth, but they describe different aspects of it. "Hollow" primarily denotes an empty space inside something, suggesting a void or cavity. On the other hand, "Shallow" implies a limited depth, often used to describe surfaces not extending far downward.
A "Hollow" object, such as a log, has an interior space or cavity. This emptiness can be physical, like in a hollow tree, or metaphorical, such as a hollow promise, meaning insincere. "Shallow," meanwhile, characterizes things like ponds or personalities that lack depth. A shallow dish doesn't have much depth, just as a shallow person might be deemed superficial or lacking substance.
In terms of emotional context, "Hollow" can convey feelings of emptiness or lack of fulfillment. For instance, one might feel hollow after a loss, indicating a sense of void or absence. "Shallow," when used in emotional or character contexts, tends to denote a lack of depth, insight, or sincerity, suggesting superficiality.
Both "Hollow" and "Shallow" can serve as adjectives, but they can also function differently in a sentence. For example, "Hollow" can be a noun, as in "The hollow of the tree was home to animals." "Shallow," while not typically a noun, can be used as one in certain contexts, like "The shallows of the beach are safe for children."
When analyzing literature or artistic works, both terms can be significant. "Hollow" might symbolize emptiness, void, or a lack of essence. In contrast, "Shallow" could represent superficiality, fleeting emotions, or a surface-level understanding.
An empty space inside something
Referring to cavities or voids
Describing surfaces or personalities
Feelings of emptiness or lack of fulfillment
Superficiality or lack of substance
Can be an adjective or noun
Primarily an adjective
Symbolizes emptiness or a lack of essence
Represents superficiality or surface-level
Hollow and Shallow Definitions
Having an empty space within.
The hollow log was home to several creatures.
Lacking depth; not deep.
The water was shallow near the shore.
Lacking in substance or sincerity.
His apology sounded hollow.
Not profound or intense.
She took a shallow breath.
Void of significance or value.
Her words felt hollow without action.
Not intellectually deep.
His analysis was quite shallow.
Having a cavity, gap, or space within
A hollow wall.
Measuring little from bottom to top or surface; lacking physical depth.
Deeply indented or concave; sunken
"His bearded face already has a set, hollow look" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).
Lacking depth of intellect, emotion, or knowledge
"This is a shallow parody of America" (Lloyd Rose).
Without substance or character
A hollow person.
Marked by insufficient inhalation of air; weak
Devoid of truth or validity; specious
"Theirs is at best a hollow form of flattery" (Annalyn Swan).
In the part of a playing area that is closer to home plate
Shallow left field.
Having a reverberating, sepulchral sound
Often shallows A part of a body of water of little depth; a shoal
Abandoned the boat in the shallows.
A cavity, gap, or space
A hollow behind a wall.
To make or become shallow.
An indented or concave surface or area.
Having little depth; significantly less deep than wide.
This crater is relatively shallow.
Saute the onions in a shallow pan.
A void; an emptiness
A hollow in one's life.
Extending not far downward.
The water is shallow here.
A small valley between hills or mountains.
Concerned mainly with superficial matters.
It was a glamorous but shallow lifestyle.
To make hollow
Hollow out a pumpkin.
Lacking interest or substance.
The acting is good, but the characters are shallow.
To scoop or form by making concave
Hollow out a nest in the sand.
Not intellectually deep; not penetrating deeply; simple; not wise or knowing.
To become hollow or empty.
(obsolete) Not deep in tone.
A small valley between mountains.
He built himself a cabin in a hollow high up in the Rockies.
(tennis) Not far forward, close to the net.
A sunken area or unfilled space in something solid; a cavity, natural or artificial.
The hollow of the hand or of a tree
(angles) Not steep; close to horizontal.
A shallow climb; a shallow descent; a shallow bank angle
(figuratively) A feeling of emptiness.
A hollow in the pit of one’s stomach
A shallow portion of an otherwise deep body of water.
The ship ran aground in an unexpected shallow.
(US) A sunken area.
A fish, the rudd.
(transitive) to make a hole in something; to excavate
(historical) A costermonger's barrow.
To call or urge by shouting; to hollo.
(ambitransitive) To make or become less deep.
(of something solid) Having an empty space or cavity inside.
A hollow tree; a hollow sphere
Not deep; having little depth; shoal.
(of a sound) Distant, eerie; echoing, reverberating, as if in a hollow space; dull, muffled; often low-pitched.
He let out a hollow moan.
Not deep in tone.
The sound perfecter and not so shallow and jarring.
(figuratively) Without substance; having no real or significant worth; meaningless.
A hollow victory
Not intellectually deep; not profound; not penetrating deeply; simple; not wise or knowing; ignorant; superficial; as, a shallow mind; shallow learning.
The king was neither so shallow, nor so ill advertised, as not to perceive the intention of the French king.
Deep versed in books, and shallow in himself.
(figuratively) Insincere, devoid of validity; specious.
A hollow promise
A place in a body of water where the water is not deep; a shoal; a flat; a shelf.
A swift stream is not heard in the channel, but upon shallows of gravel.
Dashed on the shallows of the moving sand.
Concave; gaunt; sunken.
(gymnastics) Pertaining to hollow body position
To make shallow.
(colloquial) Completely, as part of the phrase beat hollow or beat all hollow.
To become shallow, as water.
Alternative form of hollo
A stretch of shallow water
Having an empty space or cavity, natural or artificial, within a solid substance; not solid; excavated in the interior; as, a hollow tree; a hollow sphere.
Hollow with boards shalt thou make it.
The silt shallowed the canal
Depressed; concave; gaunt; sunken.
With hollow eye and wrinkled brow.
The lake shallowed over time
Reverberated from a cavity, or resembling such a sound; deep; muffled; as, a hollow roar.
Lacking physical depth; having little spatial extension downward or inward from an outer surface or backward or outward from a center;
A shallow dish
A shallow cut
A shallow closet
Established a shallow beachhead
Hit the ball to shallow left field
Not sincere or faithful; false; deceitful; not sound; as, a hollow heart; a hollow friend.
Not deep or strong; not affecting one deeply;
A night of shallow fretful sleep
In a shallow trance
A cavity, natural or artificial; an unfilled space within anything; a hole, a cavern; an excavation; as the hollow of the hand or of a tree.
Lacking depth of intellect or knowledge; concerned only with what is obvious;
His arguments seemed shallow and tedious
A low spot surrounded by elevations; a depressed part of a surface; a concavity; a channel.
Forests grewUpon the barren hollows.
I hate the dreadful hollow behind the little wood.
Superficial; lacking depth of character or understanding.
The movie's plot was rather shallow.
To make hollow, as by digging, cutting, or engraving; to excavate.
Measuring little from bottom to top or surface.
The dish is shallow.
To shout; to hollo.
Whisperings and hollowings are alike to a deaf ear.
To urge or call by shouting.
He has hollowed the hounds.
A cavity or space in something;
Hunger had caused the hollows in their cheeks
A small valley between mountains;
He built himself a cabin in a hollow high up in the Appalachians
A depression hollowed out of solid matter
Remove the inner part or the core of;
The mining company wants to excavate the hillsite
Remove the interior of;
Hollow out a tree trunk
Not solid; having a space or gap or cavity;
A hollow wall
A hollow tree
His face became gaunter and more hollow with each year
Hollow (or false) promises
As if echoing in a hollow space;
The hollow sound of footsteps in the empty ballroom
Devoid of significance or point;
A hollow victory
Resonating sound due to emptiness.
The drum had a hollow sound.
Depressed or sunken area.
He had hollows under his eyes from lack of sleep.
Can "Hollow" be used metaphorically?
Yes, "Hollow" can indicate insincerity or lack of substance, like in a "hollow promise."
Is "Shallow" ever used as a noun?
Occasionally, as in "The shallows of the beach."
How do the terms relate to physical objects?
"Hollow" objects have an internal void, while "Shallow" objects lack depth.
Do "Hollow" and "Shallow" have the same meaning?
No, "Hollow" denotes an empty space inside, while "Shallow" indicates a lack of depth.
When is "Shallow" typically used?
"Shallow" can describe surfaces lacking depth or superficial personalities.
Can "Hollow" also be a noun?
Yes, e.g., "The bird nested in the hollow of the tree."
What might a "Shallow" character in literature imply?
A character lacking depth, insight, or sincerity.
Can "Shallow" describe water bodies?
Yes, e.g., a "shallow pool" or "shallow end of a pool."
If someone's words are "Hollow," are they meaningful?
Typically, no. "Hollow" words lack sincerity or substance.
Which term conveys a deeper emotional void?
"Hollow" often conveys a deeper sense of emotional emptiness.
What sound might a "Hollow" object produce?
A "Hollow" object can produce a resonating or echoing sound.
Is "Shallow" always negative in connotation?
Not always. While it can indicate superficiality, it can also neutrally describe physical depth.
Are both "Hollow" and "Shallow" adjectives?
Primarily, yes. But "Hollow" can also be a noun, and "Shallow" occasionally.
Does a "Hollow tree" lack depth?
No, it has an empty space or cavity inside.
Which term, "Hollow" or "Shallow," indicates an interior void?
"Hollow" indicates an interior void or cavity.
Can "Shallow" describe a person's thinking?
Yes, implying a lack of depth or thoroughness in thought.
Is a "Hollow victory" a sincere win?
No, it implies a win that lacks true satisfaction or value.
Can "Shallow" be used in positive contexts?
While often neutral or negative, it can be positive, e.g., "shallow waters" being safe for kids.
Can "Shallow" refer to breathing?
Yes, e.g., "He took shallow breaths."
What's a "Hollow" sound?
A sound that echoes or resonates due to emptiness.
Written bySawaira Riaz
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