short shrift


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

Did you know?

We’ve got a confession to make, but we’ll keep it brief: while it’s technically possible to make “long shrift” of something, you’re unlikely to find long shrift in our (virtual or actual) pages anytime soon. Short shrift, on the other hand, has been keeping it real—real terse, that is—for centuries. 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.” Although now archaic, the noun shrift was understood in Shakespeare’s time to refer to the confession or absolution of sins, so “make a short shrift” meant, quite literally, “keep your confession short.” However, 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 loan agreement gives short shrift to capacity and conditions but is focused on capital and collateral factors: This is a non-recourse project financing where A looks to Project value to get repaid and has no rights in B’s existing property. Ann Rutledge, Forbes, 13 Aug. 2023 Wallach, whose other books include a biography of the daring British travel writer Gertrude Bell, concentrates so intensely on Harrison’s lust for adventure that the other facets of her life get short shrift. Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2023 But the gas-only LX and EX by comparison seem to have gotten short shrift. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, 4 Aug. 2023 So many of the supporting characters, unfortunately, get short shrift. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2023 This gives short shrift to the integrity of jurors themselves and to the voir dire process that Trump’s legal team can use to weed out biased jurors. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 2 Aug. 2023 He is obsessed with a singing career, but his delusion is given short shrift. Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 17 July 2023 Pan’s Lost Boys (some of whom are girls) receive somewhat short shrift in this telling, while Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatâhk) has a more enhanced role. Brian Lowry, CNN, 28 Apr. 2023 For more than 30 years, companies jostled to get a piece of the drug development action in other areas of rare genetic disease — for cystic fibrosis, say, or for hemophilia — but conditions like Dravet got short shrift. Elie Dolgin, Discover Magazine, 26 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'short shrift.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of short shrift was in 1594


Dictionary Entries Near short shrift

Cite this Entry

“Short shrift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition

short shrift

: little or no attention or consideration
gave the problem short shrift
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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