\ 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
2 : shrinkage
3 [short for headshrinker] : a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist

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

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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 Behind back-to-back banked 3-pointers, a press that kept the Class 3A No. 5 Trojans around all night and some miraculous breaks, the Tigers saw their lead shrink to onewith 4.3 seconds to play. Joel Lorenzi, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Jan. 2022 Experts warn that the political outlook for the coming year may shrink Biden's window for a legislative victory. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, 20 Jan. 2022 While some saw tepid growth in recent months, others watched their follower counts shrink — an indication that some fans might have decided to tune them out. Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2022 Head coach Wes Miller's team saw a 20-point halftime lead shrink to five points in the closing minutes before his team turned up the defensive intensity to close the game out. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 15 Jan. 2022 The recommendation reduced isolation time for Covid-positive health care workers from the standard 10 days set for the general public to seven — with the caveat that the timeline might shrink further in the event of additional staffing shortages. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, 14 Jan. 2022 Look for Coinbase's huge contribution to shrink, says David Trainer, CEO of research firm New Constructs. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 12 Jan. 2022 Workers at Aspen Skiing Company—the operator of the Aspen and Snowmass ski areas in Colorado—have seen winter shrink by about a month. Clarisa Diaz, Quartz, 10 Jan. 2022 The year saw reservoirs across the region shrink to historic lows, including Lake Mead — a lifeline for water in the West. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, his shrink (Neil Patrick Harris as the Analyst) has him on a steady prescription of blue pills. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Dec. 2021 Comparing normals for 1981-2010 to normals for 1991-2020 shows that more stations are seeing statistical odds for a white Christmas shrink, but the agency cautions against drawing a conclusion about any trend. Arkansas Online, 19 Dec. 2021 Theft of goods from sales floors is only one part of that seven cents of shrink. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 23 Dec. 2021 Both percentages had declined since 2015, and a different sort of risk — paperwork error — hit 18.8% of total shrink in 2018. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2021 The company managed to keep operating expenses in check with respect to the rise in revenue, which saw the operating loss shrink to $1.2 million from $16.2 million in Q3 ’21. Trefis Team, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021 Instead, major networks produced shows like Cop Rock, a jaw-droppingly strange singing procedural, and Moloney, about a cop who’s also a shrink. Vulture Editors, Vulture, 30 Oct. 2021 In the podcast — which is to say, the version that more closely resembles what happened — the person to whom the shrink is next door, in a Hamptons summer house, is reporter and narrator Joe Nocera. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2021 The jump from 5nm to 3nm represents a ‘die shrink’ and when this happens, more chips can be fitted into the same physical space as its predecessor, therefore increasing performance. Gordon Kelly, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021

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

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shrink.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for shrink



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)

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on shrink

Nglish: Translation of shrink for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shrink for Arabic Speakers


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