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[shred] /ʃrɛd/
a piece cut or torn off, especially in a narrow strip.
a bit; scrap:
We haven't got a shred of evidence.
verb (used with object), shredded or shred, shredding.
to cut or tear into small pieces, especially small strips; reduce to shreds.
verb (used without object), shredded or shred, shredding.
to be cut up, torn, etc.:
The blouse had shredded.
Origin of shred
before 1000; (noun) Middle English schrede, Old English scrēade; cognate with Old Norse skrjōthr worn-out book, German Schrot chips; (v.) Middle English schreden, Old English scrēadian to pare, trim; akin to shroud; cf. screed
Related forms
shredless, adjective
shredlike, adjective
unshredded, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for shred
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No one would have guessed from it that she had not a shred of character to her back.

    A Sheaf of Corn Mary E. Mann
  • But there is no shred of respectworthy evidence that anything of the kind happened.

  • However, let's get every shred of evidence before we let Beresford open.

    Sonia Married Stephen McKenna
  • He played, drank, talked argot, and cast off every shred of reserve.

    The Golden Dog William Kirby
  • I examined this shred of skin with all the care that it deserved.

    More Hunting Wasps J. Henri Fabre
British Dictionary definitions for shred


a long narrow strip or fragment torn or cut off
a very small piece or amount; scrap
verb shreds, shredding, shredded, shred
(transitive) to tear or cut into shreds
Derived Forms
shredder, noun
Word Origin
Old English scread; related to Old Norse skrjōthr torn-up book, Old High German scrōt cut-off piece; see scroll, shroud, screed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shred

Old English screade "piece cut off, cutting, scrap," from West Germanic *skrauth- (cf. Old Frisian skred "a cutting, clipping," Middle Dutch schroode "shred," Middle Low German schrot "piece cut off," Old High German scrot, "scrap, shred, a cutting, piece cut off," German Schrot ""log, block, small shot"," Old Norse skrydda "shriveled skin"), from PIE *skreu- "to cut; cutting tool," extension of root *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear (v.)).


Old English screadian "to peel, prune, cut off," from Proto-Germanic *skrauth- (cf. Middle Dutch scroden, Dutch schroeien, Old High German scrotan, German schroten "to shred"), from root of shred (n.). Meaning "cut or tear into shreds" is from 1610s. Related: Shredded; shredding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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