a shadow of (one's) old self

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a shadow of (one's) old self

Someone or something that has changed dramatically to become decreased in vivacity in some way, often following negative circumstances or some traumatic event. Tom's been nothing but a shadow of his old self since that accident, his bubbly, outgoing persona replaced by gloom and seriousness. The mass emigration of workers from the country during the recession has left it a mere shadow of its old self.
See also: of, old, shadow
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

shadow of one's (former/old) self, a

Reduced or diminished, in vigor or size by age, illness, or fatigue, or in wealth or power. This term was a hyperbole for being emaciated as long ago as the sixteenth century. Later it was used for other kinds of reduced circumstances, as by Sir Walter Scott in Guy Mannering (1815): “He appeared to wither into the shadow of himself.”
See also: of, shadow
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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