[ shrift ]
/ ʃrɪft /

noun Archaic.

the imposition of penance by a priest on a penitent after confession.
absolution or remission of sins granted after confession and penance.
confession to a priest.

Origin of shrift

before 900; Middle English; Old English scrift penance; cognate with German, Dutch schrift writing; see shrive, -th1
Can be confusedshift shrift Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shrift

British Dictionary definitions for shrift


/ (ʃrɪft) /


archaic the act or an instance of shriving or being shrivenSee also short shrift

Word Origin for shrift

Old English scrift, from Latin scriptum script
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

Word Origin and History for shrift



Old English scrift "confession to priest, followed by penance and absolution," verbal noun from scrifan "to impose penance," from an early Germanic borrowing of Latin scribere "to write" (see script (n.)) that produced nouns for "penance, confession" in Old English and Scandinavian (cf. Old Norse skrjpt "penance, confession"), but elsewhere in Germanic is used in senses "writing, scripture, alphabet letter;" see shrive. Short shrift originally was the brief time for a condemned criminal to confess before execution (1590s); figurative extension to "little or no consideration" is first attested 1814.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shrift


see short shrift.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.