Definition of shale in English:



mass noun
  • Soft finely stratified sedimentary rock that formed from consolidated mud or clay and can be split easily into fragile plates.

    • ‘All but one of the Scottish disc bead necklaces so far analysed have been made using cannel coal or shale for the beads.’
    • ‘Despite their name, quarry tiles are made, not quailed, from a mixture of natural ingredients including clay and shale.’
    • ‘Then, with a mattock and shovel, we dug into the side of the hill to make a spot for a level platform, which needed to be heavily reinforced because most of the hillside consisted of loose rock and shale.’
    • ‘As we drift downstream, the cliffs soar upward in a layered tapestry of pastels: pinkish limestone, buff-colored sandstone, and deep-red shale.’
    • ‘This sprawling site bears the marks of geological metamorphosis, when sediments have compacted into layers of shale and now preserve the delicate details of these organisms as fossils.’
    • ‘Comprised of selected blends of clay and shale, paving brick is molded and pressed into shape either by machine or by hand.’
    • ‘Profits from a trade of operating a quarry (selling stone, shale etc) should not be subsumed into general farming profits.’
    • ‘Examination of interbedded limestones and shales on the Great Plains improved understanding of sedimentation.’
    • ‘Hydrogen sulfide often is present in wells drilled in shale or sandstone, or near coal or peat deposits or oil fields.’
    • ‘Natural red chalk is obtained from the red ochre variety of haematite, natural grey chalk from brick clay, natural white chalk from the chalk variety of calcite or soapstone, and natural black chalk from carbonaceous shale.’
    • ‘A second scenario is that quarrying operations exposed easily weathered fossiliferous shales, mudstones, or fine-grained sandstones interbedded with limestones.’
    • ‘The quarry was a 40 foot rock face of coarsely granular limestone whose layers are interbedded with shale.’
    • ‘The harder materials like granite and hard shale usually will shatter in places you do not want while the softer limestone and sandstone are more controlled when using a hammer and chisel.’
    • ‘The soils are developed on weathered materials derived from sandstone, shale, and limestone.’
    • ‘Bring shoes, at the very least; getting here means a 15-minute hike on a trail that gradually turns from shale to softer sand.’
    • ‘A knot of walkers wanders up the trail to Weeping Rock, where springs emerge from the base of cliffs at the contact point between porous Navajo sandstone and impermeable Kayenta shale.’
    • ‘Towering over the town was Turtle Mountain, a massive hulk of limestone and shale layered with veins of coal in its core.’
    • ‘His outer body is an amalgam of granite and shale.’
    • ‘Glaciers have deposited shale, slate, schist, and limestone throughout the region.’
    • ‘The amount of radiation is so small that it is much less than natural radiation due to radon gas or that of radioactive isotopes that occur in clay, shale and brick.’


Mid 18th century: probably from German Schale; related to English dialect shale ‘dish’ (see scale).