v. shrank (shrăngk) or shrunk (shrŭngk), shrunk or shrunk·en (shrŭngkən), shrink·ing, shrinks
a. To become or appear to become smaller: The shadows shrank as the sun rose higher. The mountains shrank in the distance as we drove away.
b. To become smaller from exposure to heat, moisture, or cold: The sweater shrank in the wash.
2. To become reduced in amount or value; dwindle: His savings quickly shrank. The market for that product has been shrinking.
3. To move back or away, especially in fear: "She shrank back against the wall and flattened her palms against it" (Pearl S. Buck).
4. To show reluctance; hesitate: We should not shrink from making such a sacrifice.
To cause to shrink: The treatment shrank the tumor.
a. The act of shrinking.
b. The degree to which something shrinks; shrinkage.
2. Slang A psychotherapist.
[Middle English shrinken, to wither, shrivel up, from Old English scrincan; see sker-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.