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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The Vietnam War, the explosion of white backlash and ghetto violence, and the fitful collapse of the New Deal coalition receive extremely short shrift. Sean Wilentz, New York Times, "A Battle for the ‘Soul of America’? It’s as Old as America, One Historian Notes," 21 May 2018 Stoltenberg has strived to maintain good relations with Trump, but his calm demeanor at a news conference at day’s end could not dispel the palpable tension caused by an American president who gives short shrift to longtime alliances. Eli Stokols,, "Trump disrupts NATO summit with blasts at allies, especially Germany, and new defense spending demands," 11 July 2018 The couplings are uncovering some hard truths about rights and sexuality in Russia, where women are often given short shrift. Amie Ferris-rotman, Washington Post, "At World Cup, Russians embrace the world, one relationship at a time," 9 July 2018 How dare anyone suggest that Texas, which until 2013 had to seek permission from the Department of Justice to move forward with any changes to its voting procedures, would attempt to short shrift minority voters. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "The Supreme Court Continues to Chip Away at Protections for Minority Voters," 25 June 2018 The controversies over sweatshop conditions in some of Nike’s factories, for instance, are hardly given short shrift. Will Leitch, WSJ, "‘Kicks’ Review: It’s Gotta Be the Shoes," 21 June 2018 Such characters often got short shrift in the theater, but not here. Chris Jones,, "'Lettie' at Victory Gardens: A mother's years lost to prison are years she can't get back," 17 Apr. 2018 Walker has given short shrift to Democratic opposition to the tax cuts. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Postcards promoting tax rebate cost state $128,000," 22 May 2018 Chargers will take a quarterback This annual narrative got short shrift, deservedly so, in most forecasts. Tom Krasovic,, "NFL Draft separated fact from predraft fiction," 4 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of short shrift

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about short shrift

Share short shrift

Listen to Our Podcast about short shrift

Statistics for short shrift

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for short shrift

The first known use of short shrift was in 1594

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for short shrift

short shrift


English Language Learners Definition of short shrift

: little or no attention or thought

More from Merriam-Webster on short shrift

See words that rhyme with short shrift

Comments on short shrift

What made you want to look up short shrift? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!