1. To confess one’s sins
2. To hear the confession of a person
3. To impose a penance on a sinner
4. To grant absolution to a penitent
Middle English schriven, from Old English scrifan, from Latin scribere, to write
Words that come from the Latin scribere include scribe, script, scrivener, Scripture, manuscript, transcribe, ascribe, conscription, prescription, inscription, scribble, nondescript, post script, and shrive.
How curious that a single word should encompass the confessing, the listening, and the absolving. Shrive is the word that binds the priest and penitent in the act of confession; together they do one thing. That it comes from the verb “to write” reminds me of Revelation 20:15.