• Show


    • UK: IPA: /ʃəʊ/
    • US: enPR: shō, IPA: /ʃoʊ/
    • Rhymes: -əʊ

    Alternative forms


    From Middle English schewen, schawen, scheawen, from Old English scēawian ("to look, look at, observe, gaze, behold, see, look on with favor, look favorably on, regard, have respect for, look at with care, consider, inspect, examine, scrutinize, reconnoiter, look out, look for, seek for, select, choose, provide, show (favor, respect, etc.), exhibit, display, grant, decree"), from Proto-Germanic *skauwōną, *skawwōną ("to look, see"), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱou-, *(s)ḱeu- ("to heed, look, feel, take note of"); see haw, caveo, caution. Cognate with Scots shaw ("to show"), Eastern Frisian scoe ("to look, behold"), Dutch schouwen ("to inspect, view"), German schauen ("to see, behold"), Danish skue ("to behold"), Icelandic skygna ("to spy, behold, see"). Related to sheen.

    Full definition of show


    1. (transitive) To display, to have somebody see (something).
      The car's dull finish showed years of neglect.
      All he had to show for four years of attendance at college was a framed piece of paper.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, The Mirror and the Lamp Chapter 22, Not unnaturally, “Auntie” took this communication in bad part. Thus outraged, she showed herself to be a bold as well as a furious virago. Next day she found her way to their lodgings and tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head.
    2. (transitive) To bestow; to confer.to show mercy; to show favour
    3. (transitive) To indicate (a fact) to be true; to demonstrate.
      • 2012, John T. Jost, Social Justice: Is It in Our Nature (and Our Future)?, He draws eclectically on studies of baboons, descriptive anthropological accounts of hunter-gatherer societies and, in a few cases, the fossil record. With this biological framework in place, Corning endeavors to show that the capitalist system as currently practiced in the United States and elsewhere is manifestly unfair.
    4. (transitive) To guide or escort.
      Could you please show him on his way. He has overstayed his welcome.
    5. (intransitive) To be visible, to be seen.
      Your bald patch is starting to show.
      • John Dryden (1631-1700)Just such she shows before a rising storm.
      • Tennyson (1809-1892)All round a hedge upshoots, and shows
        At distance like a little wood.
      • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, Mr. Pratt's Patients Chapter 1, 'Twas early June, the new grass was flourishing everywheres, the posies in the yard—peonies and such—in full bloom, the sun was shining, and the water of the bay was blue, with light green streaks where the shoal showed.
    6. (intransitive, informal) To put in an appearance; show up.
      We waited for an hour, but they never showed.
    7. (intransitive, informal) To have an enlarged belly and thus be recognizable as pregnant.
    8. (intransitive, racing) To finish third, especially of horses or dogs.
      In the third race: Aces Up won, paying eight dollars; Blarney Stone placed, paying three dollars; and Cinnamon showed, paying five dollars.
    9. (obsolete) To have a certain appearance, such as well or ill, fit or unfit; to become or suit; to appear.

    Usage notes

    In the past, shew was used as a past tense form and shewed as a past participle of this verb; both forms are now archaic.





    (plural shows)
    1. (countable) A play, dance, or other entertainment.
      • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, Mr. Pratt's Patients Chapter 4, Then he commenced to talk, really talk. and inside of two flaps of a herring's fin he had me mesmerized, like Eben Holt's boy at the town hall show. He talked about the ills of humanity, and the glories of health and Nature and service and land knows what all.
    2. (countable) An exhibition of items.
      art show;  dog show
    3. (countable) A demonstration.
      show of force
    4. (countable) A broadcast program/programme.
      radio show;  television show
    5. (countable) A movie.
      Let's catch a show.
    6. (uncountable) Mere display or pomp with no substance.
      • YoungI envy none their pageantry and show.
    7. The dog sounds ferocious but it's all show.
    8. A project or presentation.''Let's get on with the show.   Let's get this show on the road.   They went on an international road show to sell the shares to investors.   It was Apple's usual dog and pony show.
    9. (baseball, with “the”) The major leagues.
      He played AA ball for years, but never made it to the show.
    10. (mining, obsolete) A pale blue flame at the top of a candle flame, indicating the presence of firedamp.
    11. (obsolete) Semblance; likeness; appearance.
      • Bible, Luke xx. 46. 47Beware of the scribes,...which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers.
      • John MiltonHe through the midst unmarked,
        In show plebeian angel militant
        Of lowest order, passed.
    12. (medicine) A discharge, from the vagina, of mucus streaked with blood, occurring a short time before labor.



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