Word of the Day – Shrive

Word of the Day : May 10, 2021




1: to administer the sacrament of reconciliation to

2 : to free from guilt

Did you know?

We wouldn’t want to give the history of shrive short shrift, so here’s the whole story. It began when the Latin verb scribere (meaning “to write”) found its way onto the tongues of certain Germanic peoples who brought it to Britain in the early Middle Ages. Because it was often used for laying down directions or rules in writing, Old English speakers used their form of the term, scrīfan, to mean “to prescribe or impose.” The Church adopted scrīfan to refer to the act of assigning penance to sinners and, later, to hearing confession and administering absolution. Today shrift, the noun form of shrive, makes up half of “short shrift,” a phrase meaning “little or no attention or consideration.” Originally, “short shrift” was the barely adequate time for confession before an execution.


“Once every three months, Pancho took his savings and drove into Monterey to confess his sins, to do his penance, and be shriven and to get drunk, in the order named.” — John Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven, 1932

“Each Saturday he confessed humbly at St Francis’ Church, then shrived penitents for long hours at the cathedral, never stinting his homilies.” — James Griffin, The Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1986