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[tril] /trɪl/
verb (used with object)
to sing or play with a vibratory or quavering effect.
Phonetics. to produce (a sound) with a trill.
(of birds, insects, etc.) to sing or utter in a succession of rapidly alternating sounds.
verb (used without object)
to resound vibrantly, or with a rapid succession of sounds, as the voice, song, or laughter.
to utter or make a sound or succession of sounds resembling such singing, as a bird, frog, grasshopper, or person laughing.
to execute a shake or trill with the voice or on a musical instrument.
Phonetics. to execute a trill, especially with the tongue, as while singing, talking, or whistling.
the act or sound of trilling.
Music. a rapid alternation of two adjacent tones; a shake.
a similar sound, or succession of sounds, uttered or made by a bird, an insect, a person laughing, etc.
  1. a sequence of repetitive, rapid, vibratory movements produced in any free articulator or membrane by a rush of air expelled from the lungs and often causing a corresponding sequence of contacts between the vibrating articulator and another organ or surface.
  2. a speech sound produced by such a trill.
Origin of trill1
late Middle English
1635-45; < Italian trillo quaver or warble in singing ≪ Germanic; compare Dutch trillen to vibrate, late Middle English trillen to shake or rock (something)


[tril] /trɪl/ Archaic.
verb (used without object)
to flow in a thin stream; trickle.
verb (used with object)
to cause to flow in a thin stream.
1300-50; Middle English trillen to make (something) turn, to roll, flow (said of tears, water) < Old Danish trijlæ to roll (said, e.g., of tears and of a wheelbarrow); compare Norwegian trille, Swedish trilla. See trill1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for trilled
Historical Examples
  • She bounced up, and trilled, "Shall we take the pop-corn in to them now?"

    Main Street Sinclair Lewis
  • I stood there dizzy, watching it die while Tweel trilled and whistled.

    A Martian Odyssey Stanley Grauman Weinbaum
  • So I trilled out a low whistle, and when I heard them coming, I ducked myself in the creek.

    The Voodoo Gold Trail Walter Walden
  • If she had been a singing-bird she would have trilled to the piano; but she had not a note of music.

    Love and Lucy Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • The free fantasy is full of storm and stress, with a fierce pedal-point on the trilled leading-tone.

  • "But we filled his bottle with luck," trilled the silvery lady upstairs.

    The King of Alsander James Elroy Flecker
  • She trilled out an old English ditty, "When Love was young," first simply, and then with variations.

    The Golden Butterfly Walter Besant
  • Wollaston said something, and Maria laughed an inane little giggle which was still musical, and trilled through the car.

    By the Light of the Soul Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • He cocked his tail and trilled and sang as though indignant that any one in the house should be up as early as he.

    The Shadow Mary White Ovington
  • He say deys er good little boy in h-y-a-h, trilled Phyllis, imitating the roosters crow.

    Bypaths in Dixie Sarah Johnson Cocke
British Dictionary definitions for trilled


(music) a melodic ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between a principal note and the note a whole tone or semitone above it Usual symbol (written above a note) tr., tr
a shrill warbling sound, esp as made by some birds
  1. the articulation of an (r) sound produced by holding the tip of the tongue close to the alveolar ridge, allowing the tongue to make a succession of taps against the ridge
  2. the production of a similar effect using the uvula against the back of the tongue
to sound, sing, or play (a trill or with a trill)
(transitive) to pronounce (an (r) sound) by the production of a trill
Word Origin
C17: from Italian trillo, from trillare, apparently from Middle Dutch trillen to vibrate


verb, noun
an archaic or poetic word for trickle
Word Origin
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; related to Norwegian trilla to roll; see trill1
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 trilled



1640s, from Italian trillio, triglio "a quavering or warbling in singing," probably of imitative origin. The verb is 1660s, from Italian trillare "to quaver, trill." Related: Trilled; trilling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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