\ 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

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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 But to bring down the cost of the bill, and to appease Ms. Sinema, Democrats could still could cut or shrink up to another $200 billion from several other climate programs. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 8 Oct. 2021 In a personal visit to the Capitol on Friday afternoon, President Biden acknowledged the price tag of the $3.5 trillion package would likely shrink—but sided with progressives in putting off the vote. Lindsay Wise, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2021 The 90 percent of the population beneath the 9.9 percent saw labor income as a proportion of overall income shrink from 58 percent in 1979 to less than 47 percent in 2015—all while productivity continued to rise. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 30 Sep. 2021 Some of those people will see their rates shrink, but some areas will see steep increases. Chris Morris, Fortune, 30 Sep. 2021 New hires will help shrink the class sizes for kindergarten through second grade and will add more nursing staff and math/social-emotional learning/literacy coordinators. Rafael Guerrero,, 28 Sep. 2021 But progressives are pushing for the Democratic caucus to first finish writing the $3.5 trillion measure, which could shrink due to the moderates' wishes. Alex Rogers, CNN, 25 Sep. 2021 And worsening drought conditions have seen many of the state’s reservoirs shrink to near-record levels. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2021 But there is a rare yet serious risk associated with CoolSculpting: Some patients develop a condition called Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia (PAH), which actually causes fat cells to grow, rather than shrink. Courtney Vinopal, Quartz, 23 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a matter of seconds, the Red Sox watched their 7-1 lead shrink to 7-5 in a game that has serious playoff implications for Boston., 6 Sep. 2021 In lower Manhattan, the result is an enclave shrink-wrapped in global tastefulness. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 31 Aug. 2021 The narrator quits his job, fires his shrink, and sets off on a road trip, just as Acosta did. Abby Aguirre, The New Yorker, 13 July 2021 The stack of stuff is then shrink-wrapped and loaded onto a delivery truck., 15 July 2021 The Sox have lost a season-high four in a row and saw their lead in the American League Central shrink to 2½ games over the Cleveland Indians. Lamond Pope,, 20 June 2021 As agreed, the deal would provide $40 billion in new funding for the IRS, which has seen its budget shrink by one-fifth between 2010 and 2018. Washington Post, 26 June 2021 Any dime-store shrink will attest that humans learn abuse, they’re not born with it. Tom Nunan, Forbes, 5 May 2021 Republicans in Texas continued seeing their margins of victory shrink in November but still won up and down the ballot. Acacia Coronado, Chron, 31 May 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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Time Traveler for shrink

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shrink.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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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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