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verb (used with or without object), shriv·eled, shriv·el·ing or (especially British) shriv·elled, shriv·el·ling.
  1. to contract and wrinkle, as from great heat, cold, or dryness.
  2. to wither; make or become helpless or useless.
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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 formsun·shriv·eled, adjectiveun·shriv·elled, adjective

Synonyms for shrivel

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1. shrink. See wither.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shrivel

dwindle, wilt, wither, shrink, welter, sear, burn, mummify, contract, parch, desiccate, stale, wrinkle, scorch, fossilize, mummy, wizen

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British Dictionary definitions for shrivel


verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. to make or become shrunken and withered
  2. to lose or cause to lose vitality
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Word Origin for shrivel

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

Word Origin and History for shrivel


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper