Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

The Word of the Year is...

shrill

[shril] /ʃrɪl/
adjective, shriller, shrillest.
1.
high-pitched and piercing in sound quality:
a shrill cry.
2.
producing such a sound.
3.
full of or characterized by such a sound:
shrill music.
4.
betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness.
5.
marked by great intensity; keen:
the shrill, incandescent light of the exploding bomb.
verb (used with or without object)
6.
to cry shrilly.
noun
7.
a shrill sound.
adverb
8.
in a shrill manner; shrilly.
Origin of shrill
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English shrille (adj., v.); akin to Old English scrallettan to sound loudly; cognate with German schrill (adj.), schrillen (v.); compare Old Norse skrīll rabble
Related forms
shrillness, noun
shrilly, adverb
outshrill, verb (used with object)
unshrill, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for shriller
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The cry was repeated, shriller this time with the insistence of anxiety.

    The Pursuit Frank (Frank Mackenzie) Savile
  • Nearer and nearer rolled the battle and louder and shriller grew its note.

    Before the Dawn Joseph Alexander Altsheler
  • I appeared suddenly to lose the power of appreciating deep sounds, while the shriller ones were comparatively unimpaired.

  • The sound was repeated, but louder, clearer, shriller than before.

  • Terrified, Jessie only cried the louder and shriller, wrenching her arm free from the stranger's grasp.

    Kidnapped at the Altar Laura Jean Libbey
  • The landlady grew all the shriller at that, and silenced my mother impatiently.

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • And the great taunting laugh was echoed by the shriller cackle of the female fiend.

    'Tween Snow and Fire Bertram Mitford
  • Stronger and shriller grew the wind, and stronger and shriller was its warning.

    The Great Sioux Trail Joseph Altsheler
  • At any rate, the voice lifting itself in shriller complaint, the words became intelligible.

    Rich Man, Poor Man Maximilian Foster
British Dictionary definitions for shriller

shrill

/ʃrɪl/
adjective
1.
sharp and high-pitched in quality
2.
emitting a sharp high-pitched sound
verb
3.
to utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill tone
4.
(transitive) (rare) to cause to produce a shrill sound
Derived Forms
shrillness, noun
shrilly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: probably from Old English scralletan; related to German schrill shrill, Dutch schrallen to shriek
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for shriller

shrill

adj.

late 14c., schrylle "high-pitched, piercing" (of the voice), probably related to Old English scralletan "to sound loudly" and of imitative origin (cf. Low German schrell, German schrill "piercing, shrill"). Related: Shrillness; shrilly (adv.).

v.

"to sound shrilly," c.1300, imitative (see shrill (adj.). Related: Shrilled; shrilling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for shrill

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for shriller

11
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for shriller