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

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 But Counsell made certain not to give short shrift to Brandon Woodruff, who’d started the previous two openers, finished fifth to Burnes in the Cy Young balloting and has been every bit the horse in Milwaukee’s rotation along the way. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 13 Apr. 2022 Besotted with an earlier edition of the American Dream, the one favored by 19th century European immigrants, Massini gives short shrift to the way the Lehman fortune was dependent on the institution of slavery. Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2022 Neither the big picture nor the far more personal one gets short shrift here. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 20 Mar. 2022 All too often, however, the work of women who choose to stay at home still gets short shrift. Melanie Kirkpatrick, WSJ, 7 Mar. 2022 Nothing gets short shrift here; the menu respects meat dishes and seafood equally. Marc Bona, cleveland, 17 Feb. 2022 Scheidel gives short shrift to the Eurocentric narcissism that regards the fall of Rome as the only memorable disaster in world history. Peter Brown, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020 In particular, Barrett worries that a consultant’s report will mainly focus on the sector’s demand for jobs, while giving a short shrift to the supply issue — that is, the state’s current training capacity and population base. Globe Staff,, 11 Feb. 2022 Just as plenty of Democratic voters are left voiceless and powerless in the red states, so too are some Republican voters given a short shrift by single-member districts in the blue states. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 8 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of short shrift

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About short shrift

Time Traveler for short shrift

Time Traveler

The first known use of short shrift was in 1594

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About short shrift

Dictionary Entries Near short shrift


short shrift


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for short shrift

Last Updated

21 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Short shrift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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