\ˈshriŋk, especially Southern ˈsriŋk\
shrank\ˈshraŋk, ˈsraŋk \ or shrunk\ˈshrəŋk, ˈsrəŋk \; shrunk or shrunken\ˈshrəŋ-kən, 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

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Other Words from shrink


shrinkable \ˈshriŋ-kə-bəl, ˈsriŋ- \ adjective
shrinker noun

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


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.


He is seeing a shrink.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These walls that have only ever shrunk us, spiritually even more than physically. Sonya Renee Taylor, SELF, "The House Next Door," 26 June 2018 That discovery led to the development of a medication that drastically shrinks these tumors and results in longer life for people with this mutation. Amy M. Miller, STAT, "Studying sex differences will improve health for women and men," 13 June 2018 Announced Wednesday and expected to ship July 29, the Omen 15 sports slender bezels that shrink its profile by 7.4 percent in width over the previous year. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "The HP Omen 15 gaming laptop is slimmer on the outside, faster on the inside," 30 May 2018 The island is ringed by a glowing circle that periodically shrinks, shepherding the players into an ever smaller arena. Robin Sloan, The Atlantic, "I Played Fortnite and Figured Out the Universe," 10 May 2018 The exodus of Puerto Ricans to the continental U.S. in the wake of Hurricane Maria is shrinking the island’s population, depleting Prepa’s customer base and leaving creditors fewer avenues to get repaid. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Utility Directors Resign, Alleging Political Interference," 12 July 2018 The existing nuclear fleet is shrinking Existing nuclear plants in the US are having a rough time, getting undercut on energy markets by cheaper natural gas and renewables. David Roberts, Vox, "The US is rapidly losing nuclear power. That’s profoundly concerning for climate change.," 11 July 2018 Now the economy is shrinking; GDP was $12bn last year. The Economist, "How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria," 28 June 2018 But one regional leader, Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, believes the BSA’s decision to admit girls is among the factors that have shrunk her council’s youth membership by more than 500 girls so far this year. Washington Post, "As girls arrive, Boy Scouts change name of flagship program," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With wages remaining stagnant (even as the unemployment rate shrinks), gains like these can make a big difference in the stability of women's lives, long term., "The Supreme Court's Janus Ruling Is A Blow To Black Women," 27 June 2018 Some of the best material had Jessie in therapy — with a shrink played by Zwick. Matthew Gilbert,, "Ten actors who shone even before they were stars," 28 June 2018 That's because as Antarctica's mass shrinks, the ice sheet's gravitational pull on the ocean relaxes somewhat, and the seas travel back across the globe to pile up far away - with U.S. coasts being one prime destination. Chris Mooney,, "Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues we are in serious trouble.," 13 June 2018 The size of an area indicated in the forecast track has shrunk by 35-percent since 2008 and since last year, experts witnessed the cone’s 5-day track shrink by 6-percent., "Hurricane Center offers new communication tools," 30 May 2018 Sure, Embiid needs to get into better shape, Simmons needs a jumper, Brown needs to adjust faster, Colangelo needs to be in the LeBron Sweepstakes and Fultz maybe needs a shrink. Marcus Hayes,, "Philly sports fans should enjoy the ride | Marcus Hayes," 13 May 2018 But again, that doesn’t mean all this offseason drama couldn’t bite them down the line in the playoffs, when the margin for error shrinks. Albert Breer,, "Dolphins Reset, Patriots Regroup, NFL Recharges," 4 June 2018 In Europe, too, demand for low-skilled labor will only increase as the continent's population ages and, in some cases, shrinks. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Does the West actually face a migration crisis?," 28 June 2018 Many investors have abandoned stock pickers as the U.S. stock market shrinks and money surges into low-cost indexes. Dawn Lim, WSJ, "How One Small School’s Endowment Is Topping the Class," 24 June 2018

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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Learn More about shrink

Phrases Related to shrink

shrink from

Statistics for shrink

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shrink

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

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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 \
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 \

Medical Definition of shrink 

: a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist

called also headshrinker

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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).


not any or not one

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