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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shrink


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for shrink

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb WhatsApp, meanwhile, saw downloads shrink to 10.6 million, down from 12.7 million the week before. NBC News, "WhatsApp growth slumps as rivals Signal, Telegram rise," 14 Jan. 2021 WhatApp, meanwhile, saw downloads shrink to 10.6 million, down from 12.7 million the week before. Barbara Ortutay, ajc, "WhatsApp growth slumps as rivals Signal, Telegram rise," 13 Jan. 2021 Pelosi's majority is about to shrink even further, temporarily. David Mark, Washington Examiner, "Death of incoming House member means another vacancy on Congress's opening day," 30 Dec. 2020 Some will be passed onto the next generation, but China’s awkward demographics mean the population will soon begin to shrink, worsening the equation. Mike Bird, WSJ, "China’s Empire of Concrete," 28 Dec. 2020 While city officials have not yet put in place any cuts, Respress worries that without community pressure, resources will shrink as the workload grows. Washington Post, "Home for the holidays? An effort aims to get two dozen people into housing before Christmas," 19 Dec. 2020 California’s overall labor force continues to shrink, which makes the unemployment rate decline even though the economy is not improving. Carolyn Said,, "Three million Californians could lose unemployment benefits a day after Christmas amid bleak jobs outlook," 18 Dec. 2020 The actors actually burst out of the familiar boxes, which shrink, enlarge and slide around the screen in compelling fashion. Matthew J. Palm,, "‘Christmas Carol’ variations work — to a point | Reviews," 12 Dec. 2020 That would leave Democrats with just 220 seats in the House once the next Congress is sworn in, and their margin over the GOP could shrink even more when the last two House races are called. TheWeek, "Fudge's HUD appointment leaves Democrats with their smallest House majority in a century," 9 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harder to gauge is how this year, which has seen needs grow and disposable income shrink, has affected organizations that depend on alternative gift-giving for funds. Washington Post, "Need a last-minute gift? How about a camel? A different kind of year has groups hoping shoppers will turn to a different kind of giving.," 16 Dec. 2020 As patches of forest shrink, fragmentation isolates populations, leading to inbreeding. Dina Fine Maron, Animals, "Madagascar’s endangered lemurs are being killed during pandemic lockdowns," 14 Dec. 2020 And Coel works through them with the control of a pilot, a jockey, a geometer, a shrink. New York Times, "Dear Academy: Please Give Cher Another Oscar," 10 Dec. 2020 All the while, as members of the opposition are picked off one-by-one, the likelihood of them being replaced by new blood is shrinking, as the spaces for cultivating new talent shrink and the cost of getting involved in politics rises ever higher. James Griffiths, CNN, "With arrests and a security law, who is left to fight for democracy in Hong Kong?," 3 Dec. 2020 But the downgrade doesn't stop at a shrink to 1080p resolution. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Xbox Series X/S review: Beautiful, powerful—but whatcha gonna play?," 5 Nov. 2020 Given these competing apocalyptic visions looming some two decades in the future, does the importance of the current election shrink in significance? Christopher R. Browning, The New York Review of Books, "Imperiled Democracy, Imperiled Planet," 3 Nov. 2020 Pruitt, Saban’s former DC, will have the Vols playing their best game but something’s going on in Knoxville that might require a shrink. Charles Hollis, al, "Auburn can expect Ole Miss to bring its Alabama game," 23 Oct. 2020 Brohm has seen his win total shrink from 7 to 6 to 4 in three seasons at Purdue, though serious injuries to quarterback Elijah Sindelar and star wideout Rondale Moore made last season something of a lost cause. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "The only Big Ten ranking that puts Jim Harbaugh behind Mike Locksley," 19 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shrink

Time Traveler for shrink

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shrink

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shrink.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on shrink

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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