Definition of hollow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhälō/


1Having a hole or empty space inside: each fiber has a hollow core
More example sentences
  • The inside was black and hollow, making it look like an empty tube.
  • Only the grimy streets and the hollow shell of his mother's home remain.
  • The framework is basically a hollow cylinder of collagenous connective tissue, the skin.
empty, void, unfilled, vacant
1.1(Of a thing) having a depression in its surface; concave: hollow cheeks
More example sentences
  • Facial wasting, a condition identified by sunken cheeks, hollow eyes and temples is caused by a loss of fat tissue under the skin.
  • They had hollow eyes and sunken cheeks, and they wailed horribly in the darkness.
  • Her cheeks were sunken and hollow, her body almost frail-looking, her hair limp and sticking to her face.
sunken, gaunt, deep-set, concave, depressed, indented
rare incurvate
1.2(Of a sound) echoing, as though made in or on an empty container: a hollow cough
More example sentences
  • The cold, hollow sounds of their steps echoing behind them made the little hairs on the back of his neck rise.
  • I dropped the pole and it clattered to the pier with a hollow thunk.
  • It hit a tree with a hollow clunk and bounced back to land at his feet.
dull, low, flat, toneless, expressionless;
muffled, muted
2Without significance: the result was a hollow victory
More example sentences
  • A deeper read, however, suggests something more complicated, a pattern of embarrassing defeats and hollow victories.
  • There is a call for peaceful direct action that could leave the hardliners with a certain but hollow victory when the election results come in.
  • Fielding women candidates can be a hollow victory if they are not resourced to campaign effectively and confidently.
meaningless, empty, valueless, worthless, useless, pyrrhic, nugatory, futile, fruitless, profitless, pointless
2.1Insincere: a hollow promise
More example sentences
  • The first item on that shopping list will trigger hollow laughter among the rest of the world's steel makers.
  • It was a very hollow gesture.
  • We cement our relationships with our barren love and hollow dialogues.
insincere, hypocritical, feigned, false, sham, deceitful, cynical, spurious, untrue, two-faced
informal phony, pretend


1A hole or depression in something: a hollow at the base of a large tree
More example sentences
  • European Starlings are cavity nesters, and nests are generally located in natural hollows, old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or building eaves and crevices.
  • I pulled the last button through what I hoped was its corresponding hole just below the hollow of my neck, and for the first time looked down at my breakfast.
  • How convenient it was that all the prey species were excavating holes and hollows and leafy chambers, and stuffing them with helpless nestlings just when he needed them.
hole, pit, cavity, crater, trough, bowl, cave, cavern;
depression, indentation, dip, dent;
niche, nook, cranny, recess
1.1A small valley: the house fell behind as they climbed out of the hollow
More example sentences
  • A thaw finally set in but the snow remained in many hollows and mountainous areas right into the summer of that year.
  • Cool, humid air after the warmth of the city, and patches of fog in the hollows; smells of car exhaust on the way out, and fishy smells once we got there.
  • In the hollow of this tiny valley, lay a white public house.
valley, vale, dale, basin, glen
literary dell


[with object]
1Form by making a hole: a tunnel was hollowed out in a mountain range
More example sentences
  • The room was circular and looked like it had been hollowed out from some giant tree.
  • Two floors were hollowed out of the hillside beneath the Research Station, so that the facility could withstand a direct hit from a German bomb.
  • It's about three feet long and was hollowed out naturally by termites, which is the way they are made.
gouge, scoop, dig, shovel, cut;
excavate, channel
1.1Make a depression in.
Example sentences
  • The rock is soft enough to be hollowed out, but it remains solid and waterproof.



beat someone hollow

Defeat or surpass someone completely or thoroughly.
Example sentences
  • Irish landlords were bad enough in the past, but this new importation from England beats them hollow.
  • I had the pleasure of beating him hollow at Pro Evolution Soccer 4.
  • Team-Pakistan beat India hollow at the Kotla grounds.

in the hollow of one's hand

Entirely in one’s power: great events lay in the hollow of his hand



Pronunciation: /ˈhälōlē/
Example sentences
  • He called out, listening to his voice echo hollowly.
  • The sound echoed hollowly off the cavernous walls.
  • However, styling does remain a vital part of fashion's vocabulary, and if it's not hollowly peddling the same old clothes it can be rather thrilling.


Pronunciation: /ˈhälōnəs/
Example sentences
  • The corruption and hollowness revealed in the prosecution of this war are too contemptible for words.
  • Their faces have taken on a sort of hollowness as they have aged.
  • I really miss my children, and that hollowness in my stomach that represents all that sadness never leaves me.


Old English holh 'cave'; obscurely related to hole.

  • hold from Old English:

    The ancient root of hold probably meant ‘to watch over’. Hold, ‘a large compartment in the lower part of a ship or aircraft’ has a different origin, is late 16th century and derives from hole (Old English) and is related to hollow (Old English), and possibly hull (Middle English). The phrase no holds barred, ‘with no rules or restrictions’, comes from the sport of wrestling. Certain holds, such as gripping round the throat, are banned as too dangerous. Sometimes, though, no-holds-barred contests would be set up where participants could do almost anything they liked.

Words that rhyme with hollow

Apollo, follow, Rollo, swallow, wallow

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hol·low

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