Definition of hollow in English:

hollow

adjective

  • 1Having a hole or empty space inside.

    ‘a hollow metal tube’
    • ‘Yamasaki used another method, which essentially made the building a hollow steel tube.’
    • ‘He could barely see them, as they were tucked away inside of a giant hollow tree.’
    • ‘A record £16 million worth of hash was found inside elaborately designed hollow doorframes.’
    • ‘So why was she feeling so hollow inside right now?’
    • ‘Several large edible crabs have burrowed under the mast and others live inside the hollow structure.’
    • ‘Newspapers, overdue bills, grocery lists, and scraps paper filled the hollow space.’
    • ‘The cochlea is a coiled, hollow tube inside the inner ear that enables us to hear.’
    • ‘Nests are located inside high, hollow branches, well outside the range of land-bound predators.’
    • ‘Typically the bread puffs up in baking leaving it hollow inside like an empty pocket, making it particularly suitable for stuffing to form a sandwich.’
    • ‘Here, the railing separates from the wall creating a hollow space with ample daylight filtering in through a skylight directly above.’
    • ‘Chelsea's stomach felt hollow, as if she hadn't just eaten a half hour ago.’
    • ‘Blood vessels are essentially hollow tubes that carry blood to the organs and tissues throughout your body.’
    • ‘Female Bornean tree hole frogs lay their eggs in the rotting holes of hollow tree stumps so that offspring can grow in a pool of water.’
    • ‘The framework is basically a hollow cylinder of collagenous connective tissue, the skin.’
    • ‘I hadn't had breakfast, and my stomach felt hollow.’
    • ‘Nick handed both men long rounded metal blades, hollow inside, attached to intricately carved handles.’
    • ‘The inside was black and hollow, making it look like an empty tube.’
    • ‘The surveys concluded that the tree's trunk was essentially hollow and there were large areas of deadwood within its crown.’
    • ‘A broken bone with a hollow space inside indicated that the creature was a carnivore, but yielded few other clues.’
    • ‘Only the grimy streets and the hollow shell of his mother's home remain.’
    empty, not solid, void, unfilled, vacant, hollowed out
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    1. 1.1 Having a concave or sunken appearance.
      ‘her cheeks were hollow and she had dark circles under her eyes’
      • ‘His cheeks were slightly more hollow compared to the last time she had saw him, and his hair was longer.’
      • ‘If the cows are under fed or fed an imbalance ration then they will look hollow, with a triangular appearance at this point.’
      • ‘His angular face, with its long, sloping, jaw line, narrow chin and hollow cheeks, suggests the fragility of china.’
      • ‘His sunken chest, stooped shoulders, and hollow eyes lend him the appearance of a man twice his age.’
      • ‘My cheeks were hollow, my eyes had sunk into my face and my skin was terrible.’
      • ‘Her cheeks were sunken and hollow, her body almost frail-looking, her hair limp and sticking to her face.’
      • ‘He was very handsome, except for the pale skin that was turning brown and the sunken cheeks and other visible hollow or gaunt areas.’
      • ‘Facial wasting, a condition identified by sunken cheeks, hollow eyes and temples is caused by a loss of fat tissue under the skin.’
      • ‘The driver was 18 to 19 years old, 5ft 6ins tall, hairy with a slim build, dark eyes, a gaunt face and hollow cheeks.’
      • ‘When you're about 60, the penalty for remaining rockstar-thin is a cadaverous face and hollow cheeks.’
      • ‘His face is hollow, his eyes sunken, he can barely lift his head from the bed.’
      • ‘He's skinny and angular, with a hollow face, jaundiced skin, sunken black eyes and a flaxen mop.’
      • ‘She is skeletally thin, with hollow, cadaverous eyes and cheeks.’
      • ‘In a single day his stubbly cheeks had begun to look hollow, and the muscles of his shoulders and legs stood out in dehydrated splendor.’
      • ‘Then images of children with bloated bellies, hollow cheeks, and heavy-lidded eyes will begin to go around the world.’
      • ‘She looks as though she neither ate nor slept during the entire shoot, with her dark-circled eyes, gaunt frame, and hollow cheeks.’
      • ‘She was much thinner, her cheeks beginning to look hollow.’
      • ‘They had hollow eyes and sunken cheeks, and they wailed horribly in the darkness.’
      • ‘Covered in dirt, blood, scruffy from several days worth of beard, eyes sunken and hollow; he looked like a different man.’
      • ‘They are generally in blue, green, white or occasionally amethyst glass, and are often cut with shallow, concave hollow diamonds.’
      sunken, deep-set, concave, depressed, dented, indented, caved in
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    2. 1.2 (of a sound) echoing, as though made in or on an empty container.
      ‘a hollow groan’
      • ‘Apparently, there was a struggle going on; some muffled yelps were heard, and a few hollow thuds resounded in the now ominous silence.’
      • ‘The sound is hollow and tinny, and the dialogue is often quite difficult to understand.’
      • ‘A few more hollow noises that sounded like metal on metal made him certain.’
      • ‘It makes a dry rustling sound, and a hollow echo as the cans and harder litter roll away across the dirty tiles.’
      • ‘Far above us, the grey clouds got sick of threatening and decided to act, and a hollow boom of thunder sounded.’
      • ‘Hand claps, body slaps, foot stomps, and the hollow sounds of the boxes being hit built into complex and satisfying rhythmic structures.’
      • ‘She remembered the dark, cold cavern and the hollow echoes of her footsteps as she walked into its darkness.’
      • ‘It hit a tree with a hollow clunk and bounced back to land at his feet.’
      • ‘I dropped the pole and it clattered to the pier with a hollow thunk.’
      • ‘A sound that is close to this is the hollow sound of a tuning fork.’
      • ‘But all that came forth was the hollow click of an empty gun.’
      • ‘You should hear a hollow sound when the melon is thumped.’
      • ‘The large wooden doors closed behind him automatically with a hollow boom, not unlike the sound of a tomb being shut.’
      • ‘The final curtain closed on the valedictory sound effect off-stage - the hollow thud of an axe chopping down the cherry trees in the lost orchard.’
      • ‘Without warning, a massive, hollow boom resounded from the ridges up near the front lines.’
      • ‘The cold, hollow sounds of their steps echoing behind them made the little hairs on the back of his neck rise.’
      • ‘Bake until biscuits are golden on top and bottom and sound hollow when tapped, about 10 minutes.’
      • ‘She turned as she heard hollow footsteps echo through the temple, and saw James approaching her door.’
      • ‘I heard a small hollow thud from behind me and a little laugh.’
      • ‘The terrible music alternates between sounding hollow, tinny, and shrill.’
      • ‘The sound is hollow and muffled throughout the film, and the bass has been cranked up to make up for the overall lack of punch.’
      dull, low, flat, toneless, expressionless
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  • 2Without real significance or value.

    ‘the result was a hollow victory’
    • ‘The game had to be played to prevent further riots, but the Juventus victory was hollow.’
    • ‘Hey, a hollow victory is better than no victory at all, right?’
    • ‘At these, it is remarkably effective, but the whole business feels rather hollow.’
    • ‘Even when I don't think about it, I feel so hollow and worthless.’
    • ‘No wonder efforts during the past two years to change how public companies operate seem so hollow.’
    • ‘Does not the claim of the government which claims to promote travel and tourism appear hollow to you?’
    • ‘Fielding women candidates can be a hollow victory if they are not resourced to campaign effectively and confidently.’
    • ‘Parents fighting the closure of their children's junior school won a hollow victory at London's Appeal Court last night.’
    • ‘Geoffrey, bless his heart, is over the top as Harry; his part in the film is unclear and a little hollow.’
    • ‘Albion scored a second to virtual silence, for it seemed a hollow victory.’
    • ‘She got a standing ovation at the end, but it all must have felt pretty hollow.’
    • ‘Everything becomes absurd and dull at the same time, and the film appears both amusing and hollow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The victory in certain lights does seem indeed to be a hollow miracle.’
    • ‘For me it's just a hollow form of words, with no real content, much like ‘Have a nice day’.’
    • ‘Such excuses sound pretty hollow right now, even to me.’
    • ‘But even if you happen to be the big winner, your victory may prove hollow.’
    • ‘If Colin wins his case, I feel it will be a hollow victory for him, whether or not he realizes this now.’
    • ‘She went to far and my threat to kill her wasn't hollow, I just needed a way and Erik was the solution to this problem.’
    • ‘Were we to have lost, we would have to start out again next January and what I would have to say to the lads would be a bit hollow - given that I am saying it for the last three years in a row.’
    meaningless, empty, valueless, worthless, useless, pyrrhic, futile, of no use, of no value, of no avail, fruitless, profitless, pointless, unavailing
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    1. 2.1 Insincere.
      ‘a hollow promise’
      • ‘There are some interesting figures quoted in the article - figures that don't shock or surprise me anymore, but just provoke hollow laughter and indignation.’
      • ‘He is from all appearances, an utterly hollow man whose every action belies the religion he wears on his sleeve.’
      • ‘The promise of new jobs rings somewhat hollow to a community with an unemployment rate well below the national average.’
      • ‘Looking towards next season all the claims that the new stadium is not affecting cash flow seem very hollow.’
      • ‘And we should try to ignore the hollow laughter at that description from those who use it every day.’
      • ‘We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety…’
      • ‘It was a very hollow gesture.’
      • ‘A fervent protester since her early college days, this is a woman who believes in action and follow-through rather than hollow promises made on election campaigns.’
      • ‘In the face of his failure to do anything about the carnage of past months, his promise to preserve national unity has a somewhat hollow sound.’
      • ‘The first item on that shopping list will trigger hollow laughter among the rest of the world's steel makers.’
      • ‘Those of us with our eye on the ball know that the promise of a technology-supported, Utopian future is a hollow one.’
      • ‘Is Williams's redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?’
      • ‘"You're lying, " she replies, breaking into a hollow laugh.’
      • ‘Are those words ringing a little hollow for you?’
      • ‘The England captain did his best to look on the bright side, which was understandable but felt rather hollow.’
      • ‘So any promises of anonymity ring a little bit hollow to me.’
      • ‘Alex couldn't stop the hollow laugh that forced its way out of her.’
      • ‘We cement our relationships with our barren love and hollow dialogues.’
      • ‘A click sounded, and a hollow laughter echoed through the room she was in.’
      • ‘There has never been a time when the cry for unlimited congressional power has rung so hollow.’
      • ‘The Forest Service's argument, however, sounded hollow to many wilderness advocates.’
      insincere, hypocritical, feigned, pretended, artificial, false, dissembling, dissimulating, deceitful, sham, cynical, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, unsound, flimsy, two-faced, double-dealing
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noun

  • 1A hole or depression in something.

    ‘a hollow at the base of a large tree’
    • ‘The hollow in the stone was about 20 centimetres in diameter and about 30 centimetres deep.’
    • ‘European Starlings are cavity nesters, and nests are generally located in natural hollows, old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or building eaves and crevices.’
    • ‘Her cheekbones protrude from the top of her face, the hollows below seem to sink all the way to her teeth before climbing the gully of her jawbones.’
    • ‘She fingered the single pearl that nestle in the hollow of her throat.’
    • ‘From his groin to his knees, his skin was indented with hollows like large smallpox scars.’
    • ‘Gideon could see the blue hollows under her eyes and thin creases of worry around the red bow of her mouth.’
    • ‘When the tide is out at Strandhill one can see clearly the indents and hollows in the sand, reminding us that extreme care needs to be taken when swimming there.’
    • ‘They would carry a block of ochre to the nearest waterhole or spring, mix ochre and water into a paste and shape it again into a block, with a slight hollow at the bottom.’
    • ‘He pressed a warm kiss into the hollow at the base of her throat.’
    • ‘One hand rests against the hollow at the base of his throat - is this an invitation to trust him?’
    • ‘They are cavity-nesters, finding a natural hollow in a tree, an old woodpecker hole, a hole in a building, or a man-made nest box.’
    • ‘Fillers add volume under the surface of the skin to plump up creases, divots and hollows from the inside out.’
    • ‘I half - lifted, half-dragged it to the side of the road, to a grassy hollow at the base of a huge live oak.’
    • ‘They also will use an old woodpecker or other hole or even hollows in the earth beneath exposed tree roots.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And once there, I leaned my back against a hollow in a boulder, not the smooth planks of a bench thoughtfully placed in the shade of twin live oaks.’
    • ‘I have walked the beach with the dogs when the wind howled across the sand, obliterating our footprints and forming ribs and patterns in the hollows and over the dunes.’
    • ‘For instance there were certain stones to be found in fields or graveyards with a hole or hollow which at times was full of water.’
    • ‘They dug hollows in the ground, covered them over just as wrens do and lived in that hollow.’
    hole, pit, cavity, crater, trough, cave, cavern
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    1. 1.1 An enclosed space within something.
      ‘he held them in the hollow of his hand’
      • ‘She finally spotted among the huge trees a gigantic oak with a large hollow at the base of its trunk that was just large enough for a little girl to go hide in and sleep.’
      • ‘Many swifts nest in caves, on cliffs or in hollows of dead trees.’
      • ‘There are cave-like hollows in the walls, deep fissures, and piles of sharply splintered rock strewn about as if blasting has just taken place.’
      • ‘He dug snow away from its end, and from within a hollow in the log retrieved two wooden barbed spears.’
      • ‘Pick it up and you discover underneath, nestled in a cutout hollow of thick cardboard, a smaller book!’
      • ‘In this way the stone becomes honeycombed and eventually larger, cavernous hollows can form.’
      • ‘On special occasions, these bricks could be positioned in specially created hollows in the walls for creating an extremely aesthetic effect.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The venerable ascetic Mahavira for a year and a month wore clothes; after that time he walked about naked, and accepted alms in the hollow of his hand.’
      • ‘The dock drops sheer to the sandy bottom at 21m; some sections are undercut, forming deep hollows sheltering sweetlips and other fish.’
      • ‘We are guided on this dive by Morne, a veteran of the lake who seems to have an uncanny knowledge of where all the best caverns and hollows are located.’
      • ‘At times, the puppies hide in the hollow of a tree, under which they have created a burrow, he adds, explaining some aspects of their behaviour.’
      • ‘I run a few drops into the hollow of my palm and wipe my face.’
      • ‘She had hid for a time within the hollow of the oak tree as pursuers raced through the forest looking for her.’
      • ‘Peering into the hollows of trees, you may come face to face with this wraithlike creature.’
      • ‘Put a spoonful in the hollow of each potato boat.’
      • ‘Electrical and communication components can be encased in nonconductive materials and fitted together within concrete hollows behind prescribed openings in the walls for outlets.’
      • ‘Apparently most of the parrots here are happy couples and have set up homes in the hollows of the dead trees in their enclosure.’
      • ‘The boy stood like a statue, looking at the ink in the hollow of his hand.’
      recess, corner, alcove, cranny, crevice, niche, bay, inglenook, cavity, cubbyhole, pigeonhole, opening, gap, aperture
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    2. 1.2 A small valley.
      ‘the village nestles in a hollow on the edge of the New Forest’
      • ‘It was a quaint little place, nestled in a hollow in the hills, and smoke rose cozily out of the chimneys of the houses.’
      • ‘Ahead were more hills, more little valleys, more slopes and hollows and knolls.’
      • ‘This park, tucked away in the hills and hollows of central Kentucky, protects the longest cave system in the world, a five-level labyrinth with more than 365 miles of tunnels.’
      • ‘The famous Surprise View is a great hollow with valleys leading north and south and moorland roads climbing out.’
      • ‘In my home state, librarians used to ride horses into the remote hollows and valleys in the rural parts of pre-war Kentucky.’
      • ‘And then there were those Yorkshire folk legends, lurking beneath a thin veneer of Christianity in the hollows and hills of Yorkshire and Scotland.’
      • ‘Once a bustling coastal township it is now a sleepy hollow with a beautiful beach, a school, and a church.’
      • ‘Often swathed in cloud, otherwise fading into a purple haze flecked with white where winter snows remain in gullies and hollows, the highest point is Pic d' Anie.’
      • ‘To the north, the mountains wind and smoothly melt into the Pre-Balkan region and the Danube plain; while to the south steep mountain slopes tower above a series of hollows and fields.’
      • ‘Nestling in a wooded hollow at the edge of the Queen's Balmoral estate on Scotland's Royal Deeside, the whitewashed mansion was bequeathed to Charles by the Queen Mother.’
      • ‘An award-winning cabin in Monteagle is nestled in a Tennessee mountain hollow and projects from the hillside to overlook a mountain stream.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Set in three-quarters of an acre, derelict Lambs Barton Stables nestle amid landscaped gardens in a hollow of land with sea views.’
      • ‘Nestled in a hollow at Hunters Point, right up against the bay, we found our goal.’
      • ‘She watched this from her third-story bedroom in the Darville estate, and her gaze wandered over to the farm that nestled into the hollow.’
      • ‘A thaw finally set in but the snow remained in many hollows and mountainous areas right into the summer of that year.’
      • ‘In the hollow of this tiny valley, lay a white public house.’
      • ‘Directly to my left, a rectangular plantation almost ready for harvest stretches to the next hollow like a roll of teased Astroturf.’
      • ‘The granite peaks and sylvan hollows in the Blue Ridge Mountains are the results of geological changes and metamorphosis over perhaps a billion year period of time.’
      • ‘Modest-looking little plants that nestle in the moist soils of swamps or mountain hollows, mosses fascinate biologists.’
      valley, vale, dale
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verb

[with object]
  • 1Form by making a hole.

    ‘a tunnel was hollowed out in a mountain range’
    • ‘Bells can be hollowed from wood or made from glass or ceramics, but most are cast or forged from metal.’
    • ‘The eye, as it drifts across the cliff, is arrested by a frontage of columns, which invites us into a sanctuary hollowed from the stone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Slowly, gradually, a tunnel, large enough for people to walk through, was hollowed out of the gigantic mound of earth.’
    • ‘Each circular city had been hollowed out from the ground, and covered by a great, pink-tinted dome.’
    • ‘In the Middle Ages vineyards flourished on this bleak Castilian plateau and cellars were hollowed out of the limestone under the town.’
    • ‘The earliest hives were hollowed out of tree trunks, and this practice still survives in some societies.’
    • ‘It's about three feet long and was hollowed out naturally by termites, which is the way they are made.’
    • ‘Until the early years of this century the traditional Russian coffin was hollowed from a single piece of wood.’
    • ‘Unlike modern harps, the soundbox would have be hollowed out from a single piece of wood and finished with a thin panel to ‘seal’ the sound box.’
    • ‘They were led into a large cave chamber that had been partially hollowed out and worked smooth.’
    • ‘Gazing in the direction of his arm, he saw a small cave, hollowed into the mountain.’
    • ‘He was being held in some sort of dungeon, which had been hollowed out of the ground.’
    • ‘The teponaxtli was a long horizontal drum hollowed from a log and beautifully carved.’
    gouge out, scoop out, dig out, cut out, excavate, channel
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    1. 1.1 Make a hollow in.
      ‘Flora's laugh hollowed her cheeks’
      • ‘The king of the bruschetta category was a little square of toast hollowed in the middle like a toad-in-the-hole and filled with egg, bits of truffle, and more melted Fontina cheese.’
      • ‘Its oversized cap can be sliced off, hollowed, and used for serving soup.’
      • ‘The concrete block has been hollowed out and is packed with enough plastic explosives to kill us’
      • ‘Pour in remainder of cake batter and smooth the top, hollowing it slightly.’
      • ‘Today in the UK, demand grows each year as more and more people realise that pumpkins aren't simply for hollowing out to make Hallowe'en decorations.’
      • ‘The first canoes are thought to have been used by Carib Indians and native North Americans and were made by hollowing out large logs.’
      • ‘At first he thought the task impossible, but then he saw a stone that had been hollowed out by dripping water.’
      • ‘For instance, termites had begun hollowing out live trees instead of just dead ones.’
      • ‘Yellow and green squash, called koosa, are hollowed out, stuffed with rice and ground lamb meat, and cooked in a tomato sauce.’
      • ‘The rock is soft enough to be hollowed out, but it remains solid and waterproof.’
      • ‘However, to hollow out the glacial boulders, made of Vermont granite, he used a high-intensity blowtorch.’
      • ‘People make pottery without a wheel by hollowing out a ball of clay and molding it into the desired shape.’
      • ‘I opened the books up and found that they had both been hollowed out.’
      • ‘Jiman, meanwhile, was hollowing out a log for a new drum commissioned from Joshua.’
      • ‘They hollow out the side of a tree and dig down to form a nest.’
      • ‘Some of the trees were completely destroyed while others were hollowed out.’
      • ‘The company also is working on a tool that's driven by a servo motor that will allow the tips to be hollowed out so coolant can flow right to the tip.’
      • ‘Thomas said the tree had a split trunk, part of which had been damaged in the first storm, and the second half hollowed by the second lightning strike.’
      • ‘Because the barrel's end is hollowed out, saving weight, the end is blunt rather than rounded.’
      • ‘Once under the wilderness area, Revett aims to spend 30 years hollowing out an untouched patch of mountain, and extracting its riches.’
      • ‘We made the centrepiece by hollowing out a large pumpkin and stuffing it with dried leaves, twigs and branches.’
      • ‘Above the waterfall, the snow - although solid and deep - had been hollowed out by running meltwater.’

Phrases

  • beat someone hollow

    • Defeat someone thoroughly.

      • ‘Irish landlords were bad enough in the past, but this new importation from England beats them hollow.’
      • ‘Given the standards of Indian movies, the splendid three-hour session will ensure that you beat the romance on the screen hollow!’
      • ‘Kerala's Shiva Priya's dream run came to an end in the 63 kg division where Asian champion Aruna Mishra beat her hollow in the first round.’
      • ‘Team-Pakistan beat India hollow at the Kotla grounds.’
      • ‘I had the pleasure of beating him hollow at Pro Evolution Soccer 4.’
      trounce, defeat utterly, beat, annihilate, drub, give a drubbing to, crush, rout, worst, overwhelm, outclass
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  • have hollow legs (or a hollow leg)

    • informal Have the ability or capacity to consume an unusually large amount of food or drink.

      ‘I'm usually hungry an hour after I leave—I just have hollow legs and should order more food’
      ‘he's got hollow legs, so plying him with drink doesn't work’

Origin

Old English holh ‘cave’; obscurely related to hole.

Pronunciation

hollow

/ˈhɒləʊ/