Phrases I Use: Short Shrift

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Over the years I have realized that there are a large number of phrases — often archaic — that I use in my everyday conversations. These often lead to odd looks of confusion from others when they don’t understand the reference or the application to the current conversation. Lately, I have been looking up the origins of many of these phrases as a way of understanding them better. It also helps to have a ready explanation when people ask, ‘What the heck does that mean?”

Phrases I Use: Short Shrift

From The Phrase Finder

To make short work of – to give little consideration to.


A shrift is a penance (a prescribed penalty) imposed by a priest in a confession in order to provide absolution, often when the confessor was near to death.


From The Free Dictionary

“The brief time before execution granted a condemned prisoner for confession and absolution.”

I usually use this phrase in the second way, to be given little consideration, attention or appreciation. The original meaning and usage has been long lost, but the implications of it linger all these years away.

Look for more Phrases I Use in the coming weeks!

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