Why is An Unfair Judgement Called a “Short Shrift” and Where Did the Expression Come From?

Shrift is an ancient word and comes from the act of shriving, which is the confessional process conducted by a priest.

In his pursuit of forgiveness, a confessor seeks absolution for the sins of his soul through a process of penance administered by the priest.

A short shrift refers to the brief time allowed with a priest to a condemned convict just before his execution.

When someone receives an unfair judgment we say they’ve been given a “short shrift”.