verb (used without object), shrank or, often, shrunk; shrunk or shrunk·en; shrink·ing.
- to draw back, as in retreat or avoidance: to shrink from danger; to shrink from contact.
- to contract or lessen in size, as from exposure to conditions of temperature or moisture: This cloth will not shrink if washed in lukewarm water.
- to become reduced in extent or compass.
verb (used with object), shrank or, often, shrunk; shrunk or shrunk·en; shrink·ing.
- to cause to shrink or contract; reduce.
- Textiles. to cause (a fabric) to contract during finishing, thus preventing shrinkage, during laundering, of the garments made from it.
- an act or instance of shrinking.
- a shrinking movement.
- Also shrinker. Also called head shrinker. Slang. a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or psychoanalyst.
verb shrinks, shrinking, shrank, shrunk, shrunk or shrunken
- to contract or cause to contract as from wetness, heat, cold, etc
- to become or cause to become smaller in size
- (intr often foll by from)
- to recoil or withdrawto shrink from the sight of blood
- to feel great reluctance (at)to shrink from killing an animal
- the act or an instance of shrinking
- slang a psychiatrist
Old English scrincan “to draw in the limbs, contract, shrivel up; wither, pine away” (class III strong verb; past tense scranc, past participle scruncen), from Proto-Germanic *skrink- (cf. Middle Dutch schrinken), probably from PIE root *(s)ker- (3) “to turn, bend.”
Originally with causal shrench (cf. drink/drench). Sense of “become reduced in size” recorded from late 13c. The meaning “draw back, recoil” (early 14c.) perhaps was suggested by the behavior of snails. Transitive sense, “cause to shrink” is from late 14c. Shrink-wrap is attested from 1961 (shrinking-wrap from 1959). Shrinking violet “shy person” attested from 1882.