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[shril] /ʃrɪl/
adjective, shriller, shrillest.
high-pitched and piercing in sound quality:
a shrill cry.
producing such a sound.
full of or characterized by such a sound:
shrill music.
betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness.
marked by great intensity; keen:
the shrill, incandescent light of the exploding bomb.
verb (used with or without object)
to cry shrilly.
a shrill sound.
in a shrill manner; shrilly.
Origin of shrill
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for shrilling
Historical Examples
  • The strings were forced back and back, wailing an ineffective protest against the shrilling advance of the woods.

    The Patient Observer Simeon Strunsky
  • "I've really had a wonderful time," the lavender stocking was shrilling.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht
  • It was hoped that his shrilling trumpet should be heard, not to announce a show, but to sound a charge.

  • Later, the shrilling wind from the East surrendered to the booming of the equinox.

    Guy and Pauline Compton Mackenzie
  • Outside, the wind was shrilling at the windows and around the eaves, and the rain was playing on the roof.

    The Golden Road Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Later, the shrilling wind from the east surrendered to the booming of the equinox.

    Plashers Mead Compton Mackenzie
  • There was a tremendous to-do for a few minutes, with Paula shrilling and tugging.

    The Sheriff of Badger George B. Pattullo
  • Sara's voice, shrilling a little with anxiety, came to him out of the darkness.

    The Hermit of Far End Margaret Pedler
  • It lost in a measure its former acute and shrilling pitch, and mellowed into a more harmonious and pleasant sound.

    Abraham Lincoln William Eleroy Curtis
  • It was a true bird-day, and his heart, uprising like the larks, was shrilling.

    The Promise of Air Algernon Blackwood
British Dictionary definitions for shrilling


sharp and high-pitched in quality
emitting a sharp high-pitched sound
to utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill tone
(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
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Word Origin and History for shrilling



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.).


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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