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See more synonyms for shriek on Thesaurus.com
  1. a loud, sharp, shrill cry.
  2. a loud, high sound of laughter.
  3. any loud, shrill sound, as of a whistle.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to utter a loud, sharp, shrill cry, as birds.
  2. to cry out sharply in a high voice: to shriek with pain.
  3. to utter loud, high-pitched sounds in laughing.
  4. (of a musical instrument, a whistle, the wind, etc.) to give forth a loud, shrill sound.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter in a shriek: to shriek defiance.
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Origin of shriek

1560–70; earlier shrick, N variant of shritch (now dial.), Middle English schrichen, back formation from Old English scriccettan; akin to shrike
Related formsshriek·er, nounshriek·ing·ly, adverbshriek·y, adjectiveout·shriek, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for shriek

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1, 5. scream, screech. 5. See scream.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for shriek

squawk, wail, screech, whoop, howl, squeal, yell, cry, shrill, shout, blare

Examples from the Web for shriek

Contemporary Examples of shriek

Historical Examples of shriek

  • Through the cold and darkness came a shriek that chilled her with horror.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • It was rather a frightful place to go into in search of the source of a shriek.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Yet, in the intensity of her utterance, the feeble whisper struck like a shriek of horror.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • By degrees her voice had lost its cooing tone and had risen to a shriek.

  • At this juncture the brakes began to shriek and grind upon the wheels.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

British Dictionary definitions for shriek


  1. a shrill and piercing cry
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  1. to produce or utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill piercing tone
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Derived Formsshrieker, noun

Word Origin for shriek

C16: probably from Old Norse skrækja to screech 1
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

Word Origin and History for shriek


16c. variant of scrycke (c.1200), from Old Norse skrækja "to screech" (see screech), probably of imitative origin. Related: Shrieked; shrieking. The noun is attested from 1580s, from the verb.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper