\ ˈshriŋk How to pronounce shrink (audio) , especially Southern ˈsriŋk \
shrank\ ˈshraŋk How to pronounce shrank (audio) , ˈsraŋk \ or shrunk\ ˈshrəŋk How to pronounce shrunk (audio) , ˈsrəŋk \; shrunk or shrunken\ ˈshrəŋ-​kən How to pronounce shrunken (audio) , ˈsrəŋ-​ \; shrinking

Definition of shrink

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to contract or curl up the body or part of it : huddle, cower
2a : to contract to less extent or compass
b : to become smaller or more compacted
c : to lose substance or weight
d : to lessen in value : dwindle
3a : to recoil instinctively (as from something painful or horrible) shrank from the challenge
b : to hold oneself back : refrain did not shrink from telling the truth

transitive verb

: to cause to contract or shrink specifically : to compact (cloth) by causing to contract when subjected to washing, boiling, steaming, or other processes



Definition of shrink (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of shrinking
3 [short for headshrinker] : a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist

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Other Words from shrink


shrinkable \ ˈshriŋ-​kə-​bəl How to pronounce shrinkable (audio) , ˈsriŋ-​ \ adjective
shrinker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shrink

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for shrink


contract, shrink, condense, compress, constrict, deflate mean to decrease in bulk or volume. contract applies to a drawing together of surfaces or particles or a reduction of area or length. caused her muscles to contract shrink implies a contracting or a loss of material and stresses a falling short of original dimensions. the sweater will shrink when washed condense implies a reducing of something homogeneous to greater compactness without significant loss of content. condense the essay into a paragraph compress implies a pressing into a small compass and definite shape usually against resistance. compressed cotton into bales constrict implies a tightening that reduces diameter. the throat is constricted by a tight collar deflate implies a contracting by reducing the internal pressure of contained air or gas. deflate the balloon

recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail mean to draw back in fear or distaste. recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust. recoiled at the suggestion of stealing shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice. shrank from the unpleasant truth flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution. faced her accusers without flinching wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (such as a start or recoiling). winced in pain blench implies fainthearted flinching. stood their ground without blenching quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear. quailed before the apparition

Examples of shrink in a Sentence

Verb The sweater shrank when it was washed. Meat shrinks as it cooks. The town's population shrank during the war. Hot water shrank the sweater. The treatment should shrink the tumor. He shrank in horror when he saw the dead cat. Noun He is seeing a shrink.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In Tasmania, those quota cuts have led to shrinking poppy fields. Washington Post, "How Johnson & Johnson companies used a ‘super poppy’ to make narcotics for America’s most abused opioid pills," 26 Mar. 2020 If the palms are flat on the counter, this creates a potential painful position for the shoulder joints, as the space between the upper arm bone and shoulder blade shrinks, pinching tissue between them. Colin Hoobler, oregonlive, "These exercises can help older adults isolated during coronavirus pandemic," 24 Mar. 2020 The central bank had begun shrinking its balance sheet in 2018 as unemployment neared record lows but now has abruptly reversed course. Joseph Lawler, Washington Examiner, "Fed commits to unlimited bond purchases in bid to counter pandemic fallout," 23 Mar. 2020 As thousands of Alaskans lose jobs or see their paychecks shrink amid the coronavirus pandemic, United Way of Anchorage has set up a way for the public to help. Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, "Emergency assistance fund set up for Anchorage residents in need," 21 Mar. 2020 The value of small sizes Even without total isolation, studies of disease dynamics in groups suggest that shrinking social circles can make a big difference. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 19 Mar. 2020 Our test car arrived with four-wheel steering that shrinks the turning circle at low speeds and stabilizes the car at higher speeds. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "Tested: Porsche's Panamera GTS Is All About the V-8," 18 Mar. 2020 But this week, as COVID-19 sank its fangs deeper into the region, declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization, the crowd at the restaurant shrunk to half the usual number. Soleil Ho,, "Family-style meals get awkward with COVID-19," 14 Mar. 2020 For the Stars, the suspension comes amid a six-game losing streak that has shrunk their lead on third place in the Central Division, and a postseason berth. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Reports: NHL season suspended due to coronavirus pandemic," 12 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Food waste shrinks; Tuesday's unsold roast chicken no longer needs to be flipped into Wednesday's blue-plate special. Joe Ray, Wired, "While Many Restaurants Struggle, Here's How One Is Thriving," 24 Mar. 2020 Yet the margin for error shrinks in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl against defending national champion Clemson. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Why Ohio State football must interrupt Clemson’s first-quarter dominance in the Fiesta Bowl," 28 Dec. 2019 As the Democratic candidate field shrinks, USA TODAY's Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page explains what happens to delegates when candidates drop out. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Democratic delegate count: How many each candidate has leading up to Michigan primary," 10 Mar. 2020 The boxes, containing items like IV fluid, gloves and gowns, remain shrink wrapped in neat rows inside the facility until the day Massachusetts General Hospital orders an emergency infusion of supplies. NBC News, "Top hospital braces for coronavirus pandemic with secret warehouse full of emergency supplies," 4 Mar. 2020 Synthesis, an advisory firm inspired by the recruitment of elite units in the Israeli army, even has shrinks dissect candidates’ answers to seemingly innocuous questions about their life stories. The Economist, "Take me to a leader Corporate headhunters are more powerful than ever," 6 Feb. 2020 Reed said digital businesses will grow even as print advertising shrinks from 29% of total revenue in 2019 to 15% in 2022. Tali Arbel, The Denver Post, "GateHouse, Gannett merge, become largest U.S. newspaper chain," 19 Nov. 2019 First the habitat shrinks, then the forage, then the population. Matt Wyatt,, "Airlifts have Texas pronghorn on the rise," 13 Feb. 2020 As the Shrek firms grow, in other words, their hunting-ground shrinks. The Economist, "Take me to a leader Corporate headhunters are more powerful than ever," 6 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shrink.' 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 shrink


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shrink


Middle English, from Old English scrincan; akin to Middle Dutch schrinken to draw back

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Time Traveler for shrink

Time Traveler

The first known use of shrink was before the 12th century

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Statistics for shrink

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrink.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for shrink


How to pronounce shrink (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shrink

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to become smaller in amount, size, or value
: to make (something) smaller in amount, size, or value
: to quickly move away from something shocking, frightening, or disgusting



English Language Learners Definition of shrink (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : a psychiatrist or psychologist


\ ˈshriŋk How to pronounce shrink (audio) \
shrank\ ˈshraŋk \ or shrunk\ ˈshrəŋk \; shrunk or shrunken\ ˈshrəŋ-​kən \; shrinking

Kids Definition of shrink

1 : to make or become smaller The sweater shrank when it got wet.
2 : to curl up or move back in or as if in fear or pain Just the thought of all this made Tom shrink back uncomfortably in his chair.— Andrew Clements, Frindle
3 : to refrain from doing something especially because of difficulty or unpleasantness He did not shrink from telling the truth.


\ ˈshriŋk How to pronounce shrink (audio) \

Medical Definition of shrink

: a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist

called also headshrinker

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More from Merriam-Webster on shrink

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shrink

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrink

Spanish Central: Translation of shrink

Nglish: Translation of shrink for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shrink for Arabic Speakers

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