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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English shryven, shriven, schrifen, from Old English sċrīfan, from late Proto-Germanic *skrībaną, a borrowing from Latin scrībō (write). Compare West Frisian skriuwe (to write), Low German schrieven (to write), Dutch schrijven (to write), German schreiben (to write), Danish skrive (to write), Swedish skriva (to write), Icelandic skrifa (to write). More at scribe.



shrive (third-person singular simple present shrives, present participle shriving, simple past shrived or shrove, past participle shrived or shriven)

  1. (religion, transitive and intransitive) To hear or receive a confession (of sins etc.)
    • c 1600, William Shakespeare, s:The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene III
      If he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me.
    • Shakespeare
      Doubtless he shrives this woman, [] / Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
    • Longfellow
      Till my guilty soul be shriven.
  2. (religion, transitive) To prescribe penance or absolution.
  3. (religion, intransitive or reflexive) To confess, and receive absolution.
    • The Croppy Boy (traditional Irish song)
      'Twas a good thought, boy, to come here and shrive.

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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of shryven