from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To hear the confession of and give absolution to (a penitent).
  • intransitive verb To obtain absolution for (oneself) by confessing and doing penance.
  • intransitive verb To make or go to confession.
  • intransitive verb To hear confessions.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To prescribe penance to for sin; impose penance on.
  • To receive a confession from (a penitent) and grant absolution; hence, to receive an acknowledgment (of a fault) from, and pardon.
  • To acknowledge a fault; confess to a priest and receive absolution: used reflexively.
  • To receive a confession, impose the necessary penance, and grant absolution.
  • To make confession.
  • To prune (trees).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To receive confessions, as a priest; to administer confession and absolution.
  • transitive verb To hear or receive the confession of; to administer confession and absolution to; -- said of a priest as the agent.
  • transitive verb To confess, and receive absolution; -- used reflexively.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive and intransitive To hear or receive a confession (of sins etc.)
  • verb transitive To prescribe penance or absolution.
  • verb intransitive or reflexive To confess, and receive absolution.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb grant remission of a sin to


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English schriven, from Old English scrīfan, from Latin scrībere, to write; see skrībh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English scrīfan, from West Germanic *skrībanan, from Latin scrībō ("write"). More at scribe.


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  • COOPER: Well, by the Christian calendar, tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, the world shrove from the old English word -- verb to -- to shrive, meaning to absolve.

    CNN Transcript Feb 27, 2006

  • These refer to the old religious custom of confession; to "shrive" signifies to forgive, to free from sin, as a priest is supposed to do, and "assoiled" means "purified."

    Books and Habits from the Lectures of Lafcadio Hearn

  • And a search of t’internet tells me that shrove is derived from shrive, meaning to confess your sins to cleanse yourself before lent.

    une fée

  • Send no shaven monks to shrive me, close the doors against their cries;

    The Voyage of Magellan

  • Edwards has on numerous occasions reitterated that this proposal is not a pretense at a potential Presidential fiat to shrive healthcare from our Congressional representatives BUT merely the first salvo in his campaign to initiate action towards bringing healthcare to all as right and not a moneyed privilege.

    Edwards Mailer In Iowa Reiterates His Threat To Take Away Congress' Health Care

  • But when his brother reminded him that this was the morning of a high holiday, and that, setting aside all other business or pleasure, he ought to go to the Monastery and shrive himself before Father Eustace, who would that day occupy the confessional, pride stepped in and confirmed his wavering resolution.

    The Monastery

  • Confessing to the poor old woman, who cannot shrive them!

    Clarissa Harlowe

  • “And I shrive you, sir, and bid good fortune go with you,” answered the Doctor.

    The History of Pendennis

  • “The monk hath some fair penitent to shrive to-night, that he is in such a hurry to depart,” said De Bracy.


  • And therefore, when they will shrive them, they take fire and set it beside them, and cast therein powder of frankincense; and in the smoke thereof they shrive them to God, and cry him mercy.

    The Travels of Sir John Mandeville


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  • Found also as "shrieve" in Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

    `O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man !'

    The Hermit crossed his brow.

    `Say quick,' quoth he, `I bid thee say--

    What manner of man art thou ?'

    Shrove Tuesday - the day before Ash Wednesday (before the Lenten period)

    December 18, 2007

  • Example from Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

    "And what of those who lay unshriven and unmourned in mass graves, would they ever be released from purgatory?"

    "It was early December, the feast of Saint Barbara, to be exact, the saint who protects us from sudden death, lest we die unshriven with all our sins upon us."

    September 24, 2009

  • See also shrove.

    February 28, 2017