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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English shryven, shriven, schrifen, from Old English sċrīfan (1. to decree, pass judgement, prescribe, 2. (of a priest) to prescribe penance or absolution), from Proto-West Germanic *skrīban, 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 and scribble.


  • enPR: shrīv, IPA(key): /ˈʃɹaɪv/
  • Rhymes: -aɪv
    • (file)


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

  1. (religion, transitive and intransitive) To hear or receive a confession (of sins etc.).
  2. (transitive) To free from guilt, to absolve.
    • 1829, Edgar Allan Poe, “Tamerlane”, in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems:
      I will not madly deem that power
      Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
      Unearthly pride hath revell’d in— […]
    • 1863 November 23, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Sicilian’s Tale. King Robert of Sicily.”, in Tales of a Wayside Inn, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, →OCLC, page 67:
      My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence, / And in some cloister's school of penitence, / Across those stones, that pave the way to heaven, / Walk barefoot, till my guilty soul is shriven!
  3. (religion, transitive) To prescribe penance or absolution.
  4. (religion, intransitive or reflexive) To confess, and receive absolution.
    • c. 1798-1845, unknown author, The Croppy Boy
      'Twas a good thought, boy, to come here and shrive.

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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of shryven