a shadow of (someone's or something's) former self

(redirected from a shadow of their former selves)

a shadow of (someone's or something's) former self

A person, group, place, etc., that has become dramatically less healthy, vivacious, or robust, often following some traumatic event or negative circumstances. Tom's been nothing but a shadow of his former self ever since the accident. His bubbly, outgoing personality is gone, replaced by constant gloom and cynicism. The mass emigration of workers from the town during the recession has left it a mere shadow of its former self. The company used to be at the top of the industry, but after years of bad decisions and poor management, it's little more than a shadow of its former self now.
See also: former, of, shadow
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a shadow of your former self

FORMAL
COMMON
1. If someone or something is a shadow of their former self, they are very much less powerful or impressive than they used to be. Our ninety-year-old dad was but a shadow of his former self. But the side which played such thrilling football last season now looks a shadow of its former self.
2. If someone is a shadow of their former self, they are very much thinner than they used to be. I couldn't believe how much weight she'd lost — she's a shadow of her former self.
See also: former, of, shadow
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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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A look at the annals of FEF show a number of traditionally strong metalcasting programs that have died off or are only a shadow of their former selves. To flourish in the future, the industry may need to endow chairs or creatively develop a steady stream of university research funding.