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verb (used with object), shrove or shrived, shriv·en or shrived, shriv·ing.
  1. to impose penance on (a sinner).
  2. to grant absolution to (a penitent).
  3. to hear the confession of (a person).
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verb (used without object), shrove or shrived, shriv·en or shrived, shriv·ing. Archaic.
  1. to hear confessions.
  2. to go to or make confession; confess one's sins, as to a priest.
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Origin of shrive

before 900; Middle English shriven, schrifen, Old English scrīfan to prescribe, cognate with German schreiben to write ≪ Latin scrībere; see scribe1
Related formsun·shrived, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shrive

purge, acquit, pardon, absolve, repent, forgive, atone, free

Examples from the Web for shrive

Historical Examples of shrive

  • Shrive me for obeying the Bishop, and bringing doom upon the heretics!

    One Snowy Night

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • Did ever “Father Confessor” have so sweet and so wilful a sinner to shrive!

  • Yet if Father Bastian refused to shrive me, what should come of me?

    All's Well

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • Confess, dear sinner; I will shrive you and grant absolution for the past, whatever it may be.


    Louisa May Alcott

  • Who will shrive these poor fellows, then, if you have turned your back upon them?

    Robin Hood

    Paul Creswick

British Dictionary definitions for shrive


verb shrives, shriving, shrove, shrived, shriven (ˈʃrɪvən) or shrived mainly RC Church
  1. to hear the confession of (a penitent)
  2. (tr) to impose a penance upon (a penitent) and grant him sacramental absolution
  3. (intr) to confess one's sins to a priest in order to obtain sacramental forgiveness
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Derived Formsshriver, noun

Word Origin for shrive

Old English scrīfan, from Latin scrībere to write
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 shrive


Old English scrifan "assign, prescribe, ordain, decree; impose penance, hear confession; have regard for, care for," apparently originally "to write" (strong, past tense scraf, past participle scrifen), from West Germanic *skriban (cf. Old Saxon scriban, Old Frisian skriva "write; impose penance;" Old Dutch scrivan, Dutch schrijven, German schreiben "to write, draw, paint;" Danish skrifte "confess"), an early borrowing from Latin scribere "to write" (see script (n.)), which in Old English and Scandinavian developed further to "confess, hear confession."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper