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  1. confined to one's home, a hospital, etc., as from illness.
  2. Psychiatry. disposed to desire solitude; withdrawn; asocial.
  3. (of an oil or gas well) temporarily sealed up.
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  1. a person confined by infirmity or disease to the house, a hospital, etc.
  2. Also called shut-in well. an oil or gas well that has been closed down.
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Origin of shut-in

1840–50, Americanism; adj., noun use of verb phrase shut in
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shut-in

inmate, case, victim, subject, sufferer, patient, consumptive, convalescent, incurable, shut-in, emergency, invalid, outpatient

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Contemporary Examples of shut-in

Historical Examples of shut-in

British Dictionary definitions for shut-in


  1. mainly US and Canadian
    1. a person confined indoors by illness
    2. (as modifier)a shut-in patient
  2. psychiatry a condition in which the person is highly withdrawn and unable to express his own feelingsSee also schizoid
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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 shut-in


"person confined from normal social intercourse," 1904, from the verbal phrase, from shut (v.) + in (adv.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

shut-in in Medicine


  1. A person confined indoors by illness or disability.
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  1. Confined to a home or hospital, as by illness.
  2. Disposed to avoid social contact; excessively withdrawn or introverted.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.