shriv·​el | \ ˈshri-vəl How to pronounce shrivel (audio) , especially Southern ˈsri- \
shriveled or shrivelled; shriveling or shrivelling\ ˈshri-​vəl-​iŋ How to pronounce shrivel (audio) , ˈsri-​ ; ˈshriv-​liŋ , ˈsriv-​ \

Definition of shrivel

intransitive verb

1 : to draw into wrinkles especially with a loss of moisture
2a : to become reduced to inanition, helplessness, or inefficiency

transitive verb

: to cause to shrivel

Examples of shrivel in a Sentence

plants shriveling in the heat
Recent Examples on the Web But when the coronavirus hit last spring, Medicare revenue began to shrivel as people put off elective surgeries that required rehab or chose to recover at home. Washington Post, "How government incentives shaped the nursing home business — and left it vulnerable to a pandemic," 9 Sep. 2020 Even with news of two promising vaccines, the consumer spending that powers the nation's economic growth could shrivel amid extended business closures. NBC News, "Latest initial weekly jobless claims tick up to 742,000," 19 Nov. 2020 Research looking at chronic and long-lasting stressors in mice found that their neurons began to shrivel and wither, while the ones in the amygdala, which alert us to danger, started to grow. Annie Vainshtein,, "Here’s what the election is doing to your brain," 5 Nov. 2020 In the coming weeks, leaves will fall, plants will shrivel, temperatures will sink and Americans will experience growing dread over the unpleasant experience that awaits us in November. Steve Chapman Chicago Tribune, Star Tribune, "The end of daylight saving time approaches. The question is, why?," 11 Oct. 2020 And, a quarter of recent coal sales went to power plants already slated for retirement, meaning the market will shrivel further, and fast. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Big Oil is tumbling, and California wants to remove a giant dam," 7 Aug. 2020 By the end of the 19th century, many inhabitants had made their way over to work the plum orchards and operate the prune dryers (barnlike structures where the fruit was set to shrivel up), and the economy was surging. Beth Graham, Saveur, "This Orcas Island Jam Company Transforms Local Plums into Vibrant Seasonal Preserves," 12 June 2019 The American economy is shriveling at an alarming rate in the biggest and fastest collapse since the Great Depression. Fox News, "How coronavirus may affect future of American jobs," 30 Apr. 2020 Some small business owners, watching their receipts shrivel up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic sheltering measures, got a loan to keep things going until shoppers return. William Thornton |, al, "For small business owners, questions abound with loan program," 18 Apr. 2020

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

1565, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for shrivel

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shrivel

Time Traveler for shrivel

Time Traveler

The first known use of shrivel was in 1565

See more words from the same year

Statistics for shrivel

Last Updated

6 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrivel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shrivel


How to pronounce shrivel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shrivel

: to become dry and wrinkled from heat, cold, or old age
: to cause (something) to become dry and wrinkled


shriv·​el | \ ˈshri-vəl How to pronounce shrivel (audio) \
shriveled or shrivelled; shriveling or shrivelling

Kids Definition of shrivel

: to shrink and become dry and wrinkled

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on shrivel

What made you want to look up shrivel? 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?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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