Definition of shrivel in US English:


verbshrivelled, shriveling, shrivels, shrivelling, shriveled

  • 1Wrinkle and contract or cause to wrinkle and contract, especially due to loss of moisture.

    no object ‘the flowers simply shriveled up’
    with object ‘a heat wave so intense that it shriveled the grapes in every vineyard’
    • ‘The flesh of his face looked as if it had shrivelled up, then been stretched and stretched to barely cover his bony features.’
    • ‘Jillian felt the covers being ripped off of her and she shriveled up due to the loss of warmth.’
    • ‘In good years, the warmth of the sun as it rises kills off the fungus, leaving the grapes shrivelled and unsightly, but tasting delicious: full of the sugar and glycerine which was left behind.’
    • ‘An open can of sardines lay half-buried within the ground, its contents long shrivelled up and well-decayed.’
    • ‘Everything comes and goes: the plump grapes shrivel or rot; the baby power can fly away in an errant breeze.’
    • ‘The insect then loses water, shrivels, and dies from dehydration.’
    • ‘Some of the leaves turned brown and shriveled up.’
    • ‘The grass upon which he had been laying shriveled up, black and as delicate as stalks of ash.’
    • ‘‘I saw a visible gas cloud come down into my back garden one night and the next day my bush had shrivelled up and half of it was dead,’ said another resident.’
    • ‘‘Frog legs for breakfast,’ Pierre shriveled up his nose.’
    • ‘Fran also had a problem with her apricots which shrivelled up when they were very small and Geoff thought the really hot weather might have knocked them off.’
    • ‘And there it was, all shrivelled up, looking at me.’
    • ‘After birth, the cord was cut, and where it was attached to your body it shrivelled up and formed a scar known as your belly button.’
    • ‘Place in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until they just begin to shrivel and blacken on the outside but are still juicy inside.’
    • ‘Monday night the trend continued and I was cooked for again, after we had lounged about in the Turkish baths for a good long while, until we were so shrivelled up we looked like dead people.’
    • ‘Like Bhikhu's right arm, this man's leg was shrivelled up.’
    • ‘Because, you know I figured that it would've shriveled up and fallen off by now.’
    • ‘Fresh walnuts are simply walnuts that have been recently picked from the tree, as opposed to walnuts that have been stored for a while, causing their insides to shrivel and dry up.’
    • ‘The strawberries may have shrivelled up and the cream long since gone sour, but the action on the tennis courts is just hotting up.’
    • ‘In October, when the grapes have shriveled to raisins, Kister sends them off to a packer for processing and marketing.’
    wither, wrinkle, pucker up, shrink
    withered, dry, dried up, desiccated, dehydrated, wrinkled, puckered, wizened, faded
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object Lose momentum, will, or desire; become insignificant or ineffectual.
      ‘his spirit shriveled and his talent atrophied’
      • ‘Somehow, somewhere between Orchard Road, Raffles City and Chinatown markets my sense of financial responsibility lost its oxygen supply, shrivelled up and died discreetly.’
      • ‘He said in the court, when the interrogator pounds the desk he said it just shrivels me up inside.’
      • ‘Prison don't make ya tough, it makes ya weak, your spirit just shrivels up inside.’
      • ‘My thousand daily cares are like great chains of iron on my spirit, and my soul shrivels inside me as if weeping heart's-blood from a thousand cuts.’
      • ‘I'll just wither and wane under all that pressure and shrivel up inside until I'm microscopic.’
      • ‘Some believe in a God who is indifferent to the world and when they find themselves alone as all of us do at some time or other, they shrivel up and die inside from the indifference they feel in the world around them.’
      • ‘She smiled, pretending to be as confident as Tiffany, but inside she was shriveling.’
      • ‘In most cases, her shame would be all but shriveled up by now.’
      • ‘The marble floor may have lost its gleam and the shop itself shrivelled in size, but seated behind his corner desk here is Jitender Nath, who knows - and perhaps rightly - that some things will never change.’
      • ‘But as she walked between the huge pylons of the temple, Miri's soul shrivelled inside her.’
      • ‘He wasn't going to completely ruin her night, even if something inside of her continued to shrivel and die whenever he sent his blazing gaze in her direction.’
      • ‘Juliet almost ignored him completely at this point, and Austin could feel his heart shrivelling up inside him.’
      • ‘For a second, Curri-San thought they must be near some kind of underground lake of some kind, but then what he heard next made his heart wrench and his stomach shrivel inside of him.’
      • ‘The perky moment shrivelled as Mr Graham glared at him.’
      • ‘I felt my insides curl and shrivel into oblivion.’
      • ‘On the eve of the 1984 strike, however, the number of deep coal miners in Scotland had dwindled away to barely 14,000-a figure which itself shrivelled to less than 3,000 in the hard years after the conflict.’
      • ‘His voice broke piteously, but Bahzell only gazed down with flinty eyes, and something inside the landlord shriveled under their dreadful promise.’
      • ‘As if Mr. Asa could read my thoughts, he bowed his head, then looked up at me with moist eyes, and I felt something shrivel inside.’
      • ‘After one year, tourism is non-existent, foreign investment in Israeli high tech has shriveled up, and the country faces an uncertain future.’
      • ‘As biodiversity shrivels, we lose a vast store of information and potential cures.’
      abate, lessen, decrease, dwindle, diminish, ease up, let up, trail off, wane, ebb, subside, peter out, melt away, fizzle out, taper off, tail off, grow dim, grow faint
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Cause to feel worthless or insignificant.
      ‘she shriveled him with one glance’
      • ‘FDR and Churchill led the world against Hitler, but it may have taken a Jewish comedian, Mel Brooks, to shrivel him to comic insignificance in The Producers.’


Mid 16th century: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare with Swedish dialect skryvla ‘to wrinkle’.