October 08, 2013
shadowbox (verb)
\SHAD-oh-bahks\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to box with an imaginary opponent as a form of training
How do you use it?
Marnie loves the sport of boxing and can spend an entire Saturday afternoon shadowboxing.
Are you a word wiz?

The sport of boxing is thousands of years old, and we don't know when people started to train by shadowboxing. We do, though, know about when people started using the word "shadowbox." Which of the following do you think is the year of our earliest evidence of the word?

The evidence we have for the word "shadowbox" shows that it dates to the late 1800s. That makes it much newer than the word "shadow" itself, which is one of the oldest words in the English language. While "shadowbox" is a verb, "shadow" itself can be a noun, verb, or adjective. The noun is the one we're all most familiar with: it refers to the dark shape that appears on a surface between anything and a source of light. The verb can mean "to cast a shadow on" or "to follow someone secretly." The adjective "shadow" in British English refers to people in the government who would have important positions if their political party had won the most recent election.
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