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Apparently a modern borrowing by English author, poet and translator Kevin Crossley-Holland (born 1941) of Old English sċrīþan (to go; take one's way to a place; go about; wander),[1] from Proto-Germanic *skrīþaną (to step; stride), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kreyt-, *(s)ker- (twist, turn, bend). The word is cognate with Dutch schrijden (to stride), German schreiten (to stride; to step), Swedish skrida (to glide; to pass; to keep pace with), Icelandic skríða (to creep, crawl).



shrithe (third-person singular simple present shrithes, present participle shrithing, simple past and past participle shrithed)

  1. (intransitive) To move; to proceed; to creep, roam, or wander.
    • 1973, James Edwin Miller, England in Literature, page 14:
      He realized the monster meant to attack Heorot after the blue hour, when black night has settled over all— when shadowy shapes come shrithing dark beneath the clouds.
    • 1993, Betty Bonham Lies, “Writing about Literature through Poetry”, in The Poet’s Pen: Writing Poetry with Middle and High School Students, Portsmouth, N.H.: Teacher Ideas Press, Greenwood Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 159:
      Grendel to His Mother [by Kirsten Dabrowski] Oh momma, momma, I'm just not a winner, / 'Cause I got roughed up on my way to get dinner. / I shrithed to the Heorot to get human yummies / To tickle our palates and fill up our tummies.
    • 1999, “Beowulf”, in Richard [William] Barber, editor, Myths & Legends of the British Isles, Woodbridge, Suffolk; Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, →ISBN, page 243:
      While the winged creature coiled himself up, / the friend and lord of men stood unflinching / by his shield; Beowulf waited ready armed. / Then, fiery and twisted, the dragon swiftly / shrithed towards its fate.
    • 1999, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Heather O'Donoghue, editor, Beowulf (Oxford World's Classics)‎[1], Oxford: Oxford University Press, →ISBN:
      But the cruel monster constantly terrified / young and old, the dark death-shadow / lurked in ambush; he prowled the misty moors / at the dead of night; men do not know / where such hell-whisperers shrithe in their wanderings.
    • 2003, Kevin Crossley-Holland, “The Most Bitter Day”, in King of the Middle March (Arthur; 3), London: Orion Children's Books, →ISBN; 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Inc., 2004, →ISBN, page 349:
      An adder writhes out of the bush, I can see the diamonds on its back; it shrithes across the sandy soil, and bites the right foot of one of the knights.
    • 2009, Kevin Crossley-Holland, “Switzerland”, in The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood, London: Quercus, →ISBN:
      I creep, I shrithe / on my devil's claws, / and sting whatever I touch.
    • 2017, Craig Williamson, transl., “[The Exeter Book] The Rhyming Poem”, in The Complete Old English Poems, Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, →ISBN, lines 55–57, page 503:
      Some secret curse comes shrithing / To the once blithe hall, sits on the soul / Where a treasure burns.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Poetry, volume 115, issue 4, Chicago, Ill.: Poetry Foundation, 1970, ISSN 2330-0795, OCLC 848180262, page 274: “For example, Crossley-Holland makes up the word ‘shrithe’ from the Old English scriðan, which means a kind of awesome, evil going, clear in context and needing no gloss. This is the sort of archaic invention that Morris has been scolded for, but I think it is good.”