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 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 Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in San Francisco, said that for too long, Arab-American issues had received short shrift in the curriculum. New York Times, "Push for Ethnic Studies in Schools Faces a Dilemma: Whose Stories to Tell," 15 Aug. 2019 Slavery, the issue that defined the Civil War (and underlies most salient political conversations), receives fan fictional short shrift. C. Brandon Ogbunu, WIRED, "How White Nationalists Have Co-Opted Fan Fiction," 1 Aug. 2019 The bureau pledged to look into the Ramirez allegations, but Justice Kavanaugh’s detractors pointed to the Coons letter as evidence that her claims were given short shrift, and that corroborating witnesses were ignored. New York Times, "During Kavanaugh Hearings, Senator Alerted F.B.I. to New Allegation," 16 Sep. 2019 Guirgis, who usually writes with a tighter focus, has trouble keeping all of his narrative balls in the air, with the result that while some characters and plot elements are vividly rendered, others are given short shrift and make little impression. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven': Theater Review," 10 Dec. 2019 But something was bound to get short shrift in a production that combines music, dance, comedy, a faux mystery, and lots of audience interaction. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: ‘Who Brought the Humbug?’ taps into the seasonal spirit," 7 Dec. 2019 Even the valiant Marine and gifted writer E.B. Sledge gets short shrift. Elizabeth D. Samet, Washington Post, "From Jim Mattis, leadership lessons and a love letter to Marine ‘grunts’," 24 Oct. 2019 Flanagan doesn’t give this material short shrift: McGregor is convincing as a tortured soul dragging himself toward stability, a crucial arc for King (whose Shining novel was far more about Jack’s struggles with addiction than Kubrick’s movie was). David Sims, The Atlantic, "Doctor Sleep: A Horror Sequel That Tries to Do the Impossible," 7 Nov. 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

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The first known use of short shrift was in 1594

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Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Short shrift.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 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

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).


to assert without proof or before proving

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