short shrift


Definition of short shrift

1 : barely adequate time for confession before execution
2a : little or no attention or consideration gave the problem short shrift
b : quick work usually used in the phrase make short shrift of

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Did You Know?

The word shrift is an archaic noun referring to the confession or absolution of sins. These days, "shrift" is rarely encountered on its own, but it does keep frequent company with "short" in the phrase "short shrift." The earliest known use of the phrase comes from William Shakespeare's play Richard III, in which Lord Hastings, who has been condemned by King Richard to be beheaded, is told by Sir Richard Ratcliffe to "Make a short shrift" as the king "longs to see your head." Shakespeare uses this phrase quite literally ("keep your confession short"), but since at least the 19th century the phrase has been used figuratively to refer to a small or inadequate amount of time or attention given to something.

Examples of short shrift in a Sentence

He gives short shrift to the author's later works.
Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, Japanese corporate culture wouldn’t allow broken companies to fail, and shareholders were given short shrift from management in terms of things like buybacks and dividends, says Mr. Vail. Simon Constable, WSJ, "Japanese Stocks Are Back on U.S. Investors’ Radar," 3 Apr. 2021 The students, save the domineering Astrid (Maria Dragus) and the fraught Gretel (Tijan Marei), get short shrift as well. Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Eddie Izzard stars in the perfunctory spy thriller ‘Six Minutes to Midnight’," 24 Mar. 2021 But women's domestic tasks get short shrift in the history of labor-saving technology because historically much of that work received no direct monetary compensation. Virginia Postrel, Star Tribune, "Women's history reveals how liberation follows when technology 'destroys jobs'," 20 Mar. 2021 The film’s co-director, Kemp Powers, who is Black, seemed to receive short shrift, subsequently offering thanks in a pretaped video that played on Docter’s iPad. New York Times, "The Best and Worst of the Golden Globes," 1 Mar. 2021 That doesn’t mean the festival’s goal of representation will get short shrift. Beth Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego Latino Film Festival tightens up its second virtual festival," 5 Mar. 2021 Even within those programs, Umemoto said, the story of the Asian American civil rights movement, and of the people who built it, is often given short shrift. NBC News, "Losing generation of activists who fought racism proves need for Asian American studies," 3 Mar. 2021 But that gives short shrift to the rest of the park, which is stuffed with special places that aren’t (always) swarmed with crowds. Shawnté Salabert, Outside Online, "The Ultimate Yosemite National Park Travel Guide," 22 Feb. 2021 Compared with fellow comic revolutionaries like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, Rogers tends to get short shrift in accounts of that era. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "On Keegan-Michael Key’s Podcast, a Provocative Case for Sketch Comedy," 27 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'short shrift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of short shrift

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for short shrift

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The first known use of short shrift was in 1594

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Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Short shrift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for short shrift

short shrift


English Language Learners Definition of short shrift

: little or no attention or thought

Comments on short shrift

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