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 Yet, in a recent global survey of 1,000 business leaders, conducted by Infosys Knowledge Institute, these skills received short shrift. Ravi Kumar, Quartz at Work, "How can we create a workforce full of lifelong learners?," 20 Jan. 2020 The prime minister’s hope for a Canada-style trade deal was given short shrift, as the European Union signalled that any ambitious agreement would require Britain to commit itself to social and labour protections similar to the EU’s. The Economist, "Politics this week," 6 Feb. 2020 The ceiling — sometimes referred to as a room’s fifth wall — often gets short shrift in decorating schemes. Washington Post, "RIGHT AT HOME: Ceilings with something to say," 25 Feb. 2020 Italy often gets short shrift in popular English-language histories about World War II, with the fighting in the country shrugged off as a sideshow to the Battle of Britain and the invasion of France. oregonlive, "‘A House in the Mountains’ tells little-known World War II story of Italian women fighting for freedom," 21 Jan. 2020 Party officials, who touted the new technology as a fast way to tally votes, may have given short shrift to assuring not only the app’s effectiveness but also its security, experts said. Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "The Iowa Caucuses App Had Another Problem: It Could Have Been Hacked," 5 Feb. 2020 In the myriad current shows and new books honoring the Bauhaus’s centenary, Bayer, an Austrian who became one of the most influential graphic designers of his time, is given short shrift. Wendy Moonan, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Pioneering Work of Graphic Artist Herbert Bayer," 4 Feb. 2020 Even today, the unique health experiences of older women, particularly those related to mental health, are often given short shrift by the medical community. Meryl Davids Landau, Woman's Day, "Mental Health Issues Are the Menopausal Side Affect We're Not Talking About," 27 Jan. 2020 Rodgers has grumbled something about the Packers getting a short shrift on the national attention meter this season. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "NFL roundtable: Which players will shape playoff picture most in final two weeks?," 21 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of short shrift was in 1594

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Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Short shrift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for short shrift

short shrift


English Language Learners Definition of short shrift

: little or no attention or thought

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with short shrift

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