Definition of shrink in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʃrɪŋk/

verb (past shrank /ʃraŋk/; past participle shrunk /ʃrʌŋk/ or (especially as adjective) shrunken /ˈʃrʌŋk(ə)n/)

1Become or make smaller in size or amount: [no object]: the workforce shrank to a thousand [with object]: the sun had shrunk and dried the wood (as adjective shrinking) the shrinking market has provoked a massive price war
More example sentences
  • The current bearish stock market, rising energy costs, and shrinking family size would all seem to counter this trend.
  • Chipmakers can cut costs by shrinking the size of their semiconductors and fitting more on a single silicon wafer.
  • Faced with budget deficits when he took office in 1993, Mayor Giuliani refused to raise taxes but instead shrank the size of government and slowly began cutting taxes.
get smaller, become/grow smaller, contract, diminish, lessen, reduce, decrease, dwindle, narrow, shorten, slim, decline, fall off, drop off, condense, deflate, shrivel, wither
make smaller, contract, lessen, reduce, decrease, narrow, shorten, truncate, abbreviate, condense, slim down, pare down, concentrate, abridge, compress, squeeze, deflate, shrivel, wither
1.1 [no object] (Of clothes or material) become smaller as a result of being immersed in water: she wore a sweater which had shrunk slightly
More example sentences
  • Keep in mind the material might shrink slightly.
  • Will the market for printed Japanese materials shrink?
  • Amazingly, when he did, the clothes shrunk before his eyes to form a perfect fit.
1.2 (as adjective shrunken) (Of a person’s face or other part of the body) wrinkled or shrivelled through old age or illness: a tiny shrunken face and enormous eyes
More example sentences
  • Her shrunken face is ash white but her eyes burn in recognition.
  • Her arms are stick like and her skin folds down around her shrunken body like a curtain.
  • The intense painting shows three old women with shrunken faces and clad in white.
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move back or away, especially because of fear or disgust: she shrank away from him, covering her face he shrank back against the wall
More example sentences
  • People no longer winced or shrunk away in fear when she passed, and the teachers no longer completely ignored her.
  • The archive page has moved, and has shrunk dramatically.
  • Although private equity investment in many countries was already shrinking amid fears of a global recession, it has now fallen off a cliff.
draw back, recoil, jump back, spring back, jerk back, pull back, start back, back away, retreat, withdraw;
flinch, shy away, blench, start, wince, cringe, cower, quail
2.1 [often with negative] (shrink from) Be averse to or unwilling to do (something difficult or unappealing): I don’t shrink from my responsibilities
More example sentences
  • Because of some obstacle - a constitutional weakness or defect, wrong education, bad experiences, an unsuitable attitude, etc. - one shrinks from the difficulties which life brings.
  • Stiegler does not shrink from this difficulty.
  • It is incredible that they now shrink from removing a leader who nobody seems to think will win one.
recoil, shy away, hang back, demur, flinch;
have scruples about, scruple about, have misgivings about, have qualms about, be loath to, be reluctant to, be unwilling to, be disinclined to, be indisposed to, be sorry to, be averse to, be slow to;
be chary of, fight shy of, not be in favour of, be against, be opposed to, be hesitant to, be diffident about, be bashful about, be shy about, be coy about, be ashamed to, be afraid to, hesitate to, hate to, not like to, not have the heart to, drag one's feet/heels over, waver about, vacillate about, think twice about, baulk at, quail at, mind doing something
informal boggle at
archaic disrelish something
2.2 [no object] (shrink into oneself) Become withdrawn.
Example sentences
  • Unless these individual Muslims are very exceptional individuals they do as Smith did and shrink into themselves.
  • I think of myself like that when I put the sunglasses on; they make me shrink into myself, and feel half the weight I was earlier that day.
  • I shrink into myself and become sullen and uncommunicative.


A psychiatrist: you should see a shrink
From headshrinker
More example sentences
  • The other man is a shrink at a local psychiatric hospital.
  • Counsellors, shrinks and psychologists are flocking to the disaster sites and the homes of grieving relatives to comfort the hurting, the stunned and the overwhelmed, sometimes with a media crew in tow.
  • There's no question about it - the tax-funded mental health system is merely welfare for the mental health experts, namely shrinks and therapists.



Example sentences
  • All those shops selling these goods have to give consumers the assurance that they are fast colour, non shrinkable and correct size.
  • Reverse printed by rotogravure in eight colors, including metallic silver, the Seal-It heat shrinkable sleeve label enhances the product.
  • If the surface soil underlying 208 London Road is a shrinkable clay, then tree management would have provided an effective and economical way of preventing further movement.


[usually in combination]: headshrinker


Pronunciation: /ˈʃrɪŋkɪŋli/
Example sentences
  • Guercino shrinkingly hid his squint in the shadows of his brow in his self-portrait of about 1625, but it is conspicuous in the later portrait by his nephew Benedetto Gennari in the Mahon Collection.
  • Unlike so many movie shrinks - especially in comedies - he's not older, bearded. has no German accent and doesn't act shrinkingly.
  • She was always shrinkingly modest with me, but what was wrong was that in it there was always a sort of fear, in short she thought herself something insignificant beside me, something almost unseemly in fact.




Old English scrincan, of Germanic origin; related to Swedish skrynka 'to wrinkle'.

  • Old English scrincan, of Germanic origin, is related to Swedish skrynka ‘to wrinkle’. The sense ‘draw back’ in an action of recoiling in abhorrence or timidity dates from the early 16th century. Shrivel (mid 16th century) comes from a related Scandinavian word. In the informal sense ‘a psychiatrist’ shrink is a shortening of headshrinker. The longer form appeared in print in 1950, and shrink itself in 1966. A headshrinker was originally a head-hunter who preserved and shrank human heads.

Words that rhyme with shrink

bethink, blink, brink, cinque, clink, dink, drink, fink, Frink, gink, ink, interlink, jink, kink, link, mink, pink, plink, prink, rink, sink, skink, slink, stink, sync, think, wink, zinc

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: shrink

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