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)

intransitive verb

: to draw into wrinkles especially with a loss of moisture
: 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 Now, as spring progresses and temperatures warm, Arctic sea ice will shrivel. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 31 Mar. 2024 Our tester noted some browning and shriveling, but was pleasantly surprised by what a difference a few hours in water made. Brigitt Earley, Glamour, 21 Mar. 2024 Meanwhile, surrounding communities have watched their lands shrivel. Megan Janetsky, Victor R. Caivano and Rodrigo Abd, Quartz, 13 Mar. 2024 His flesh has shrunk and shriveled, life reduced to little more than a thin mask over an imminent death. Aaron Boxerman, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2024 As the season wears on, these seeds begin to shrivel, turning to a pale army green color. Carly Westerfield, Bon Appétit, 9 Mar. 2024 This would be his third such message, and the first to a Congress whose Republican strength had shriveled following setbacks in the most recent midterm elections. Harold Holzer, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Feb. 2024 This succulent goes dormant during the summer months, and its leaves shrivel right before that happens. Andrea Beck, Better Homes & Gardens, 6 Feb. 2024 Both sources of revenue have shriveled and the city now faces a hefty budget deficit. Dan Walters, The Mercury News, 1 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shrivel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1565, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shrivel was in 1565

Dictionary Entries Near shrivel

Cite this Entry

“Shrivel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


shriv·​el ˈshriv-əl How to pronounce shrivel (audio)
shriveled or shrivelled; shriveling or shrivelling -(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce shrivel (audio)
: to shrink and become dry and wrinkled
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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