Main definitions of shoal in English

: shoal1shoal2

shoal1

noun

  • 1A large number of fish swimming together.

    ‘a shoal of bream’
    Compare with school
    • ‘Large shoals of pollack can quickly deplete the food supply on one wreck then move en masse to another.’
    • ‘Over Easter this year an enormous shoal of grey mullet was swirling round for at least a week.’
    • ‘Large shoals of pollack are often found gathered at the seaward end of the bay.’
    • ‘There are fish everywhere - mixed shoals of snappers, fusiliers and grunts flowing in and out of the wreck.’
    • ‘Diving both areas is fairly easy and enjoyable, and always features huge shoals of fish.’
    • ‘The fishermen were after pike, and the pike will be after the shoals of roach.’
    • ‘Still, at the end of the dive a small shoal of mackerel did swim past.’
    • ‘Last year they found some big shoals of bream below Kings Lawn and really hammered them out.’
    • ‘Match catches also reveal some big shoals of bream all along the river, but particularly in the lower reaches.’
    • ‘Small shoals of barracuda were regular inhabitants of this site, but these too failed to appear.’
    • ‘The water below had turned from blue to dark brown as the shoal of sardines passed beneath us.’
    • ‘Above the wheelhouse, a big shoal of barracuda has appeared while we are below.’
    • ‘All the same we took about thirty fish from the shoal before they became too cross with us to feed on.’
    • ‘Apparently this wreck sometimes has huge shoals of juvenile fish on it, but not today.’
    • ‘Huge dense shoals of fish cover the forward quarter of the wreck.’
    • ‘Expect beautiful visibility and a spiralling shoal of barracuda.’
    • ‘Local anglers are having a ball as shoals of mackerel still abound in the bay.’
    • ‘A large shoal of pollack can often be seen swimming above the engine.’
    • ‘An enormous shoal of mackerel were swimming overhead.’
    • ‘Sometimes you'll find shoals of roach and perch in streams running out into the bays.’
    1. 1.1British informal A large number of people or things.
      ‘shoals of people were coming up the drive’
      • ‘In the end I found a whole shoal of them in the sports section.’
      • ‘The popular take-away and restaurant in Chippenham has been short-listed for the area title of the contest, after shoals of nominations from its customers.’
      • ‘Before the current intifada began in 2000, shoals of tourists made it difficult to move in these lanes.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • (of fish) form shoals.

    ‘these fish can safely be released to shoal with most adult species’
    • ‘Fish are starting to shoal more tightly in the deeper pegs with falling water temperatures making spectacular bags such as this a real possibility.’
    • ‘Last summer I encountered a squadron of 16 cuttlefish shoaling together, showing off their camouflage skills.’
    • ‘It's a place to see shoaling hammerheads and big silky sharks, but it's not a place for new divers.’
    • ‘Fish are more tightly shoaled at this time of year and a few good draws could make all the difference.’
    • ‘Whether it is to do with the exceptionally good weather, but there have been reports that so many fish are shoaling into Kinsale Harbour, the water is silver with scales.’
    • ‘Then the whales broke the surface and were feeding on whatever fish were shoaling there.’
    • ‘I find the chub are often shoaled up in numbers from ten to forty fish and providing you don't spook them you can often make a big catch.’
    • ‘Many of these huge catches are only made possible because the fish are still so tightly shoaled.’
    • ‘The fish have been shoaled in the shallower, faster, water downstream of the numerous weirs that bear testament to the river's industrial heritage.’
    • ‘Fish will often be shoaled up tight at the start of the season around the spawning grounds.’
    • ‘The Aire and Calder Canal at Pollington, near Selby, gets better in colder conditions with fish shoaling up tightly in the wides opposite the boats.’
    • ‘Calculations would be vital in working out when storms might be expected and when fish would shoal.’
    • ‘Those of the 57 entrants in Sunday's Tadcaster open not drawn in the bottom field struggled on a clear Wharfe at Smaws Ings as the fish shoaled up above the weir.’
    • ‘Grayling are starting to shoal on the rivers Eden and Wharfe with the rise in water levels and drop in water temperature after the rain.’
    • ‘So we were going out to the really deep 60 to 90 meter line to see if the fish were shoaling up in the deeper water.’
    • ‘With the Woodlands complex at Carlton Minniot starting to thaw out entries are gradually creeping up again and with the water still cold the fish are tightly shoaled.’
    • ‘Although large fish may be loners, leerfish will shoal in numbers if bait is present in large quantities and fishing at this time, such as during Natal's sardine run, can be phenomenal.’
    • ‘Roach are beginning to show in numbers as they begin to shoal prior to spawning.’
    • ‘This is where divers from Cyprus come to see big fish - if you are lucky you will see tuna shoaling.’

Origin

Late 16th century: probably from Middle Dutch schōle ‘troop’. Compare with school.

Pronunciation

shoal

/ʃəʊl/

Main definitions of shoal in English

: shoal1shoal2

shoal2

noun

  • 1An area of shallow water.

    ‘we clawed our way out from the Bahamian shoals into the deep waters of the Atlantic’
    • ‘Two of the four ships managed to escape while the two others sought shelter in a shallow area of the shoal.’
    • ‘They ride the ship wakes for miles as they pass over shallow shoals.’
    • ‘The Dolomite depositional system is composed of a superficial plateau with shoals and ponds, limiting a submerged and protected inner shelf environment in the western area.’
    • ‘It never unnerved me, the natural blueness of his irises, so like the color of the water off the shoals of Bahamas.’
    • ‘Soon we were speeding across the near-shore shoal, a shallow boneyard of rocks and coral heads.’
    • ‘The displacement and ballast of shoal draft boats are 100 lb greater than the standard draft versions to compensate for the higher center of gravity of the ballast.’
    • ‘Water hisses on the shoal at the point, slaps, recalls the shipwrecks that dot these shores as surely as towns dot the map.’
    • ‘The shallowest shoals in the area had been reported at 37 metres, and depths earlier the same day had been between 50 metres and 300 metres.’
    • ‘Mussels in unimaginable numbers once paved the shallow shoals of many rivers and provided an easily accessible food supply.’
    • ‘At the initial mapping, a 400 m baseline, delineating the deepest edge of the shoal, was established and marked with permanent metal stakes.’
    • ‘On the morning of March 3, the three men anchored at a shoal, due to the heavy wind and the failure of the boat engine.’
    • ‘Today the shoals are flooded by back water from the Joe Wheeler Dam.’
    • ‘At the surface there was nothing but rolling shoals of dirty brown water.’
    • ‘But thanks for reminding me of the Marines and thereby reminding me that even the US Navy uses a local pilot when navigating unfamiliar shoals.’
    • ‘The following day, July 31, a rested, healthier crew experienced slow upstream travel through difficult shoals and rapids.’
    • ‘Tuesday's incident follows last Sunday's sighting by the Philippine navy of four Chinese vessels and 10 smaller boats in various areas of the shoal.’
    1. 1.1 A submerged sandbank visible at low water.
      • ‘It's warm, the spring tide is rising, we're going over a shoal.’
      • ‘Oregon's lighthouses were all but inaccessible when they were built in the 19th century, near shoals and sandbars, treacherous offshore rocks and reefs.’
      • ‘They blamed an uncharted shoal that the vessel must have hit several hours before as the cause of the flooding.’
      • ‘He spent ten years working in the coal trade of the east coast of England - with its shoreline of treacherous, shifting shoals, uncharted shallows, and difficult harbours.’
      • ‘In 1865, the Committee on Roads and Jetties raised funds for the filling and leveling of the shoal near the waterways junction.’
      • ‘The seabed images were used by the Navy in deciding which areas of shoals and reef needed careful investigations using the ship's echosounder.’
      • ‘However, some of the elementary cycles may have been influenced by intrinsic processes such as local shifting of sand shoals due to wave reworking.’
      • ‘Carbonate particles removed from the ‘factory’ zone fed the onshore shoals and beach deposits.’
      • ‘They've navigated their way through narrow channels and around dangerous shoals using the same buoys and other navigational aids.’
      • ‘She remembered driving the Ocean Gypsy onto the shoals.’
      • ‘The sand forming these two shoals would ordinarily have been deposited on the East Beach during its eastward drift.’
      • ‘Although the Clyde was broad, until the early 19th century shoals prevented sea-going ships from sailing higher than Port Glasgow some twenty miles downstream.’
      • ‘Where are the navigational hazards such as shoals?’
      • ‘He knows polls and districts and congressional races the way a sea-fisherman knows tides and currents and shoals.’
      • ‘These offer information about shifting shoals, sandbars and such that can be critical for boaters and productive for fishers.’
      • ‘It also addresses the fact that in many of these areas boaters travel near the middle because shoals, stumps, rocks and other hazards often exist near the sides of the channel.’
      • ‘The chatter sounds are generally heard in and around sandy bottom areas such as shoals and beaches.’
      • ‘Of course, an unintended consequence of these jetties was that they created offshore shoals and sandbars that tended to magnify the waves here.’
      • ‘For example, your DGPS can conceivably place you within 30 feet of a shoal, but the chart image loaded in the plotter could be one in which that area has not been resurveyed for decades.’
      • ‘With its shoals and proximity to nearby shipping lanes, the Tortugas are a natural ship trap.’
      sandbank, bank, mudbank, bar, sandbar, tombolo, shallow, shelf, sands
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2usually shoals A hidden danger or difficulty.
      ‘he alone could safely guide them through Hollywood's treacherous shoals’
      • ‘In these turbulent waters, the American Navy navigates the political shoals and does what it does best - projects power.’
      • ‘But with deficits rising and businesses anxious for new tax breaks, Congress will first have to navigate the treacherous shoals of domestic politics.’
      • ‘The US is entering uncharted waters, which hide shoals that could cause its economy to sink into a recession and with it stocks and shares plummeting into the deep.’
      • ‘Churches of all sizes and shapes can run aground on this shoal.’
      • ‘In the birthplace of civilization, we have again run aground on the rocky shoals of nationalism, this time augmented by a religious fervor that increases the danger.’
      • ‘They have been doing so for years, of course, shrewdly navigating the political shoals.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, my spiritual search soon ran aground on the shoals of alcoholism, and would remain marooned there until May, 1993, when I got sober.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • (of water) become shallower.

    ‘the water shoals reasonably gently, and the swimming is safe’
    • ‘Endurance subsequently completed a detailed investigation, which revealed that the seabed shoaled without warning and incredibly steeply from more than 40 metres to 6.4 metres in eight seconds.’
    • ‘Such vertical facies changes indicate that water depth generally shoaled as sediment supply exceeded the formation of accommodation space, probably as global sea level fell.’

adjective

North American
dialect
  • (of water) shallow.

    ‘crabs will move to shoaler water when the current changes’
    • ‘One of the extras listed was a shoal draught keel.’
    • ‘The ship deployed her mooring legs in a precision anchoring evolution less than 1,200 yards from shoal water.’
    • ‘They are great fun to sail and perfectly suited for cruising in out-of-the-way places and shoal waters.’

Origin

Old English sceald (adjective), of Germanic origin; related to shallow.

Pronunciation

shoal

/ʃəʊl/