Definition of shrivel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈSHrivəl/

verb (shrivels, shriveling, shriveled ; British shrivels, shrivelling, shrivelled)

1Wrinkle and contract or cause to wrinkle and contract, especially due to loss of moisture: [no object]: the flowers simply shriveled up [with object]: a heat wave so intense that it shriveled the grapes in every vineyard
More example sentences
  • Like Bhikhu's right arm, this man's leg was shrivelled up.
  • Jillian felt the covers being ripped off of her and she shriveled up due to the loss of warmth.
  • Monday night the trend continued and I was cooked for again, after we had lounged about in the Turkish baths for a good long while, until we were so shrivelled up we looked like dead people.
wither, shrink;
dry up, desiccate, dehydrate, parch, frazzle
1.1 [no object] Lose momentum, will, or desire; become insignificant or ineffectual: his spirit shriveled and his talent atrophied
More example sentences
  • As biodiversity shrivels, we lose a vast store of information and potential cures.
  • She smiled, pretending to be as confident as Tiffany, but inside she was shriveling.
  • I'll just wither and wane under all that pressure and shrivel up inside until I'm microscopic.
1.2 [with object] Cause to feel worthless or insignificant: she shriveled him with one glance
More example sentences
  • FDR and Churchill led the world against Hitler, but it may have taken a Jewish comedian, Mel Brooks, to shrivel him to comic insignificance in The Producers.


Mid 16th century: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare with Swedish dialect skryvla 'to wrinkle'.

  • shrink from Old English:

    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 shrivel

civil, drivel, snivel, swivel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: shriv·el

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