\ ˈshrīv How to pronounce shrive (audio) , especially Southern ˈsrīv \
shrived or shrove\ ˈshrōv How to pronounce shrove (audio) , ˈsrōv \; shriven\ ˈshri-​vən How to pronounce shriven (audio) , ˈsri-​ \ or shrived; shriving

Definition of shrive

transitive verb

1 : to administer the sacrament of reconciliation to
2 : to free from guilt

intransitive verb

archaic : to confess one's sins especially to a priest

Did You Know?

We wouldn't want to give the history of shrive short shrift, so here's the whole story. It began when the Latin verb scribere (meaning "to write") found its way onto the tongues of certain Germanic peoples who brought it to Britain in the early Middle Ages. Because it was often used for laying down directions or rules in writing, 8th-century Old English speakers used their form of the term, scrīfan, to mean "to prescribe or impose." The Church adopted scrīfan to refer to the act of assigning penance to sinners and, later, to hearing confession and administering absolution. Today shrift, the noun form of shrive, makes up half of short shrift, a phrase meaning "little or no consideration." Originally, short shrift was the barely adequate time for confession before an execution.

First Known Use of shrive

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

History and Etymology for shrive

Middle English, from Old English scrīfan to shrive, prescribe (akin to Old High German scrīban to write), from Latin scribere to write — more at scribe

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

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Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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