Definition of hollow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhɒləʊ/


1Having a hole or empty space inside: a hollow metal tube
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, not solid, void, unfilled, vacant, hollowed out
1.1Having a concave or sunken appearance: her cheeks were hollow and she had dark circles under her eyes
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, deep-set, concave, depressed, dented, indented, caved in
rare incurvate
1.2(Of a sound) echoing, as though made in or on an empty container: a hollow groan
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;
deep, rumbling, echoing, sepulchral
2Without real significance or value: 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, futile, of no use, of no value, of no avail, fruitless, profitless, pointless, unavailing
archaic bootless
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, pretended, artificial, false, dissembling, dissimulating, deceitful, sham, cynical, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, unsound, flimsy, two-faced, double-dealing
informal phoney, 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, cave, cavern;
depression, indentation, concavity, dent, dint, dip, dimple, dish, basin, niche, nook, cranny, recess
1.1An enclosed space within something: he held them in the hollow of his hand
More example sentences
  • Electrical and communication components can be encased in nonconductive materials and fitted together within concrete hollows behind prescribed openings in the walls for outlets.
  • The actuator body pivots about a pivot axis and is attached to the cartridge bearing assembly disposed within an inner hollow of the actuator body.
  • I pulled the small piece of parchment from within the hollow of the band and handed it to Janet for her to read out loud.
1.2A small valley: the village nestles in a hollow on the edge of the New Forest
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;
British  dene, combe, slade;
Northern English  clough;
Scottish  glen, strath
literary dell, dingle


[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 out, scoop out, dig out, cut out, excavate, channel
1.1Make a hollow in: Flora’s laugh hollowed her cheeks
More example sentences
  • We made the centrepiece by hollowing out a large pumpkin and stuffing it with dried leaves, twigs and branches.
  • Jiman, meanwhile, was hollowing out a log for a new drum commissioned from Joshua.
  • Its oversized cap can be sliced off, hollowed, and used for serving soup.


beat someone hollow

Defeat someone 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.
trounce, defeat utterly, beat, annihilate, drub, give a drubbing to, crush, rout, worst, overwhelm, outclass
informal hammer, clobber, thrash, lick, best, paste, pound, pulverize, crucify, slaughter, massacre, murder, flatten, demolish, destroy, walk over, wipe the floor with, take to the cleaners, make mincemeat of, turn inside out
British informal stuff, marmalize
North American informal shellac, cream, skunk, blow out
US informal own



Pronunciation: /ˈhɒləʊli/
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: /ˈhɒləʊnəs/
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

Line breaks: hol¦low

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