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short shrift

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short shrift

Postby magi » Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:36 pm

short shrift
n.

1. Summary, careless treatment; scant attention: These annoying memos will get short shrift from the boss.
2. Quick work.
3.
(a). A short respite, as from death.
(b). The brief time before execution granted a condemned prisoner for confession and absolution.

n 1: a brief and unsympathetic rejection; "they made short shrift of my request" 2: brief and unsympathetic treatment

Word History: To be given short shrift is not the blessing it once was. The source of our verb shrive (shrove, shriven) and noun shrift, which have technical meanings from ecclesiastical Latin, is Classical Latin scrbere, “to write.” Shrive comes from the Old English verb scrfan, “to decree, decree after judgment, impose a penance upon (a penitent), hear the confession of.” The past participle of scrfan is scrifen, our shriven. The noun shrift, “penance; absolution,” comes from Old English scrift with the same meaning, which comes from scrptus, the perfect passive participle of scrbere, and means “what is written,” or, to use the Latin word, “what is prescribed.” Theologians and confessors viewed the sacrament of penance as a prescription that cured a moral illness. In early medieval times penances were long and arduouslengthy pilgrimages and even lifelong exile were not uncommonand had to be performed before absolution, not after as today. However, less demanding penances could be given in extreme situations; short shrift was a brief penance given to a person condemned to death so that absolution could be granted before execution.[/b]
Not even the five fingers of our hands are alike.
--Afghan proverb
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Postby Bailey » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:39 pm

I think I'd rather have a short shift.

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Postby Perry » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:17 pm

So I suppose that the best answer to, "Does the condemmed have any last requests?" would be, "Yes, a long shrift."

I had never known the origin of this expression; I just blithely used it as appropriate under the first definition.
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Postby gailr » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:06 pm

My old friend William S is generally credited for publishing this phrase first, in Richard III, Act III, Scene 4
RATCLIFF
Dispatch, my lord; the duke would be at dinner:
Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.


-gailr
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