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I'm struggling hard to remember a word I came across many months ago. It's not an uncommon word as far as I can remember. The word in question means, again if I can recall correctly, to bend something inwards. I think it's a synonym of, or at least related to, telescope (as in The cars telescoped during the collision). I also have a vague remembrance that the word starts with the letter 's'. I've been cudgeling my brains hard over this, but the word is still eluding me.

I know this is probably not the right place to be asking such a frivolous question, but I'm pretty sure I'll be rid in no time of this compulsive obsession to recall the word ASAP.

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6 Answers 6

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Whether this is the lost word in your head I cannot say, but in some circumstances you might use scrunch.

Merriam Webster (M-W)

Scrunch:

to draw or squeeze together tightly; crumple — often used with up; to cause (something) to draw together —usually used with up

Cambridge

to make something or yourself smaller to fit into a small space

Collins discusses a little more than M-W and Cambridge. Here is an extract:

Collins

If you scrunch something, you squeeze it or bend it so that it is no longer in its natural shape and is often crushed.

Her father scrunched his nose. [VERB noun]

Her mother was sitting bolt upright, scrunching her white cotton gloves into a ball. [VERB noun + into]

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to concertina:

OED

1. transitive. To cause (a thing) to fold, collapse, or wrinkle in a manner suggestive of a concertina's bellows. Also figurative.

2001 P. H. Jackson Chameleon Candidate i. 1 The force of the crash had concertinaed the vehicle.

2. intransitive. To fold, collapse, or wrinkle in the manner of a concertina's bellows. Frequently with prepositional phrase.

1998 C. Barker Galilee vi. 346 It [sc. a Mercedes] had concertinaed against the rear of the truck and was virtually unrecognizable.

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Crumple is used in cars, such as a crumple zone.

to press, bend, or crush out of shape

to cause to collapse

MW

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  • That's right, @jimm101. Not the word I was looking for, though. I have mentioned it above (in comments) that it was actually stave in that I was looking for. But thank you very much. :-)
    – user405662
    Dec 28, 2021 at 14:48
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This word does not start with S but it certainly carries the meaning you are looking for. It is a verb that can be used both transitively and intransitively:

Incurvate (or incurve)

to curve or cause to curve inwards (Collins)

e.g.

  • Gravity incurvates the rays.
  • The body incurvates a little at the back. (finedictionary.com)

It's a start. Maybe looking up its synonyms might help you find your s word.

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It's funny that the word should come back to me after posting about it here when it'd been eluding me for a long time now.

The word I'd been after was stave:

to smash a hole in

stove in the boat

also : to crush or break inward

staved in several ribs

[Merriam-Webster]

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    I’m glad you thought of the word you were trying to think of, but this is not a good answer to the question, as “smash a hole in/crush or break inward” is very different from “bend something inward”.
    – mweiss
    Dec 28, 2021 at 20:05
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    Moby Dick is fully of "stove boat[s]". But beware, it is usually about something that has staves, like a barrel or boat. Not just anything.
    – Lambie
    Dec 28, 2021 at 20:10
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Here are a couple of words that meet your criteria:

Shrink

Become or make smaller in size or amount.

Squeeze

Firmly press (something soft or yielding), typically with one's fingers.

Shorten

Make or become shorter.

Squash

Crush or squeeze (something) with force so that it becomes flat, soft, or out of shape.

Squelch

To fall or stamp on so as to crush

Summarize

To make a summary of; state or express in a concise form.

Synopsize

To make a synopsis of.

Specificate

To give specificity to.

Syncopate

To shorten or produce by syncope

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  • None of those words.
    – user405662
    Dec 28, 2021 at 11:24
  • Maybe Syncopate? (Also I don't have 50 rep so I couldn't post my response as a comment to your post)
    – Grift
    Dec 28, 2021 at 11:29
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    @Grift If you can't comment, you need to write a good answer. We don't like answers in comments much anyway. See also multi-word answers
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 29, 2021 at 11:11
  • What? This person already had a good understanding of the word they were looking for, so how can an answer that gives only one word and a definition be considered better then an answer that gives multiple possible words that the person could be asking for? If this question was asking: "What word can I use to describe X thing" then I could understand but it's not.
    – Grift
    Dec 29, 2021 at 19:47
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    Anyway I "improved" my post but the correction doesn't help the author of this post at all (since again they were looking for a specific word) so it's frankly a ridiculous criticism.
    – Grift
    Dec 29, 2021 at 20:03

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