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cast a shadow over (something)

To dampen, spoil, or ruin something that was hitherto good or positive. The boy's broken finger cast a shadow over his birthday party. This scandal will undoubtedly cast a shadow over her otherwise impeccable career.
See also: cast, shadow

cast a shadow over (some place)

To fill a place with sadness, grief, dread, or any strong negative emotion. The child's sudden death cast a dark shadow over the house. The dictator's ascension to power has cast a shadow over the country.
See also: cast, shadow

frightened of (one's) (own) shadow

Easily or constantly spooked, nervous, timid, afraid, or fearfully suspicious. I can't say I have much faith in Johnny helping us on this expedition—that boy's frightened of his own shadow! You can't live life frightened of your shadow—you need to get out into the world and taste adventure!
See also: frighten, of, shadow

take the shadow for the substance

dated To accept something false, deceitful, shallow, or insubstantial in place of something true, meaningful, or valuable. (Said especially in religious lectures or sermons about shunning or being led away from faith or the dictates of the church.) In today's modern, materialistic world, it is all too easy to take the shadow for the substance.
See also: shadow, substance, take

a shadow of (one's) former self

A person whose personality has changed dramatically to become decreased in vivacity in some way, often following some traumatic event. Ever since Tim was in that accident, he's been a shadow of his former self. She's so quiet now, like a shadow of her former self. Does anyone know what happened to the bubbly girl we once knew?
See also: former, of, shadow

afraid of one's own shadow

Fig. easily frightened; always frightened, timid, or suspicious. (An exaggeration.) After Tom was robbed, he was even afraid of his own shadow.
See also: afraid, of, shadow

Coming events cast their shadows before.

Prov. Significant events are often preceded by signs that they are about to happen. (From Thomas Campbell's poem, "Lochiel's Warning.") If you pay attention to the news, you can generally tell when something momentous is about to happen. Coming events cast their shadows before.
See also: before, cast, coming, event, shadow

*shadow of oneself

 and *a shadow of itself; *a shadow of one's former self
Fig. someone or something that is not as strong, healthy, full, or lively as before. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) The sick man was a shadow of his former self. The abandoned mansion was merely a shadow of its old self.
See also: of, shadow

without a shadow of a doubt

 and beyond the shadow of a doubt
without the smallest amount of doubt. I am certain that I am right, without a shadow of a doubt. I felt the man was guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt.
See also: doubt, of, shadow, without

a shadow of your/its former self

a smaller, weaker, or less important form of someone or something With most of its best players traded away, the team was reduced to a shadow of its former self.
See also: former, of, shadow

beyond the shadow of a doubt

also without a shadow of a doubt
so that it is obviously true Letters in her father's own handwriting would prove his guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.
See also: beyond, doubt, of, shadow

in the shadow of somebody

receiving little attention because someone else is better known or more skillful Tom was a good lawyer, but he was always in the shadow of his famous father.
Usage notes: often used after live: Living in the shadow of a glamorous sister, Hilda was quiet and shy.
See also: of, shadow

in the shadow of something

1. near something Her house is located in the shadow of the state capitol.
2. influenced by something bad that has happened or could happen The children of the survivors lived their lives in the shadow of the Holocaust. The organization is trying to protect civil rights in the shadow of terrorism.
See also: of, shadow

be afraid of your own shadow

to be extremely nervous and easily frightened She's always having panic attacks, she's the kind of person who's afraid of her own shadow.
See also: afraid, of, shadow

a shadow of your former self

if you are a shadow of your former self, you are less strong or less powerful than you were in the past He came back to work after 3 months, completely cured of the cancer but a shadow of his former self.
See also: former, of, shadow

beyond/without a shadow of a doubt

if something is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no doubt that it is true This is without a shadow of a doubt the best film I have seen all year.
See also: beyond, doubt, of, shadow

in somebody's shadow

if you are in someone's shadow, you receive less attention and seem less important than them For most of his life he lived in the shadow of his more famous brother.
See also: shadow

in/under something's shadow

if you are in the shadow of an unpleasant event, you cannot forget that it has happened or might happen in the future The local population were living under the shadow of war.
See also: shadow

afraid of one's own shadow

Very timid and fearful, as in Richard constantly worries about security; he's afraid of his own shadow. This hyperbole has been used in English since the early 1500s, and some writers believe it originated in ancient Greece.
See also: afraid, of, shadow

beyond a doubt

Also, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Certainly so, undoubtedly so, as in Beyond a doubt this is the best view of the valley. This phrase, along with the earlier without doubt (dating from c. 1300), asserts the truth of some statement. W.S. Gilbert's version, in The Gondoliers (1889), is: "Of that there is no manner of doubt-no probable, possible shadow of doubt-no possible doubt whatever." In this context shadow means "a trace or slight suggestion." Another variant is beyond a reasonable doubt. This phrase is often used in court when the judge instructs the jury that they must be convinced of the accused's guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt; reasonable here means "logical and rational." Also see beyond question; no doubt.
See also: beyond, doubt

shadow of one's self

Also, shadow of one's former or old self . A person, group, or thing that has become weaker in physical or mental capacities or in power or authority. For example, After that long battle with the flu, he was just a shadow of his old self, or This new administration is but a shadow of itself, or The revised constitution is a shadow of its former self. The use of shadow for an emaciated person dates from the late 1500s, and by about 1800 the word began to be used for other kinds of attenuation.
See also: of, shadow
References in classic literature ?
The old King looked at the little Fairy, and saw how lovingly the bright shadows gathered round her, as if to shield her from every harm; the timid birds nestled in her bosom, and the flowers grew fairer as she looked upon them; while her gentle friends, with tears in their bright eyes, folded their hands beseechingly, and smiled on her.
Over the Mountains Of the Moon, Down the Valley of the Shadow, Ride, boldly ride,' The shade replied, -'If you seek for Eldorado
It will pass," she cried; "I have often seen the like before; no man can put out the moon; lose not heart; sit still--the shadow will pass.
As Clayton turned his eyes in the direction she indicated, he saw silhouetted dimly against the shadows beyond, a great figure standing upright upon the ridge.
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled, and she was frightfully sorry for Peter.
These words so alarmed Mombi that she quickly transformed herself from a shadow to a Black Ant, in which shape she crawled along the ground, seeking a crack or crevice in which to hide her tiny body.
I sat for a moment in silence, enjoying the still, pure air, and the delightful prospect of the park that lay before me, rich in verdure and foliage, and basking in yellow sunshine, relieved by the long shadows of declining day.
For-ever have the Mahars, who dwell beyond the Lidi Plains which lie at the farther rim of the Land of Awful Shadow, taken heavy toll of our people, whom they either force into lifelong slavery or fatten for their feasts.
For the most part the winding alleys were in dense shadow and even in the immediate vicinity of the flares the illumination was far from brilliant.
In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.
If I had been a scoundrel," answered the Shadow, increasing its speed, "I should not have left you.
Everything was suffused with a soft, red glow in which he saw his shadow projected in the road before him.
     To stay the shadow on the dial's face
If you stand in an acoustic shadow there is one direction from which you will hear nothing.
The only things that held their own individuality were the firs--for the fir is the tree of mystery and shadow, and yields never to the encroachments of crude radiance.