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[shriv-uh l] /ˈʃrɪv əl/
verb (used with or without object), shriveled, shriveling or (especially British) shrivelled, shrivelling.
to contract and wrinkle, as from great heat, cold, or dryness.
to wither; make or become helpless or useless.
Origin of shrivel
1595-1605; akin to Swedish skroflig uneven, rough (perhaps orig. wrinkled, shrunken), dialectal Swedish skryvla to wrinkle, Old English sceorfan to roughen; see scurf
Related forms
unshriveled, adjective
unshrivelled, adjective
1. shrink. See wither. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shriveling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Flames licked at them greedily, touching and shriveling their flesh.

    Tess of the Storm Country

    Grace Miller White
  • The face twisted in a sudden spasm, as if its brain were shriveling with heat.

    Out Like a Light Gordon Randall Garrett
  • This will prevent the seeds from shriveling before they start to germinate.

    Your Plants James Sheehan
  • She had a sensation of shrinking, of shriveling up, inside her.

  • And since I have been living here in peace and plenty I am shriveling like an apple in springtime.

    Such is Life Frank Wedekind
  • It keeps long without the least shriveling or loss of flavor.

    Soil Culture J. H. Walden
  • Without any shriveling or loss of flavor, it keeps till May.

    Soil Culture J. H. Walden
British Dictionary definitions for shriveling


verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to make or become shrunken and withered
to lose or cause to lose vitality
Word Origin
C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish dialect skryvla wrinkle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shriveling



1560s (implied in shriveled), of unknown origin, not found in Middle English; perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. Swedish skryvla "to wrinkle, to shrivel"), perhaps ultimately connected with shrimp (n.) and shrink (v.). Related: Shriveled; shriveling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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