[ shriv-uhl ]
See synonyms for: shrivelshriveledshrivelledshrivels on

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.

Origin of shrivel

First recorded in 1595–1605; akin to Swedish skroflig “uneven, rough” (perhaps originally “wrinkled, shrunken”), dialectal Swedish skryvla “to wrinkle,” Old English sceorfan “to roughen”; see scurf

synonym study For shrivel

1. See wither.

Other words for shrivel

Other words from shrivel

  • un·shriv·eled, adjective
  • un·shriv·elled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use shrivel in a sentence

  • But as European governments cut back on the price they were willing to pay for drugs, European pharmaceutical research shrivelled.

  • I would rather go to church with Dolly in homespun, than ride in a carriage beside that shrivelled piece of tanned leather.

    The World Before Them | Susanna Moodie
  • His skin was shrivelled like that of a preserved fig, and he wore big horn-rimmed spectacles.

    Dope | Sax Rohmer
  • A little cringing shrivelled old man stood up in astonishment.

    The Daisy Chain | Charlotte Yonge
  • The little shrivelled don who had been omniscient about guns joined in the baiting, and displayed himself a venomous creature.

    The New Machiavelli | Herbert George Wells
  • That magnificent proposition shrivelled to nothing in the black loneliness of that night.

    The New Machiavelli | Herbert George Wells

British Dictionary definitions for shrivel


/ (ˈʃrɪvəl) /

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

Origin of 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