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 formsshrill·ness, nounshril·ly, adverbout·shrill, verb (used with object)un·shrill, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shriller

Contemporary Examples of shriller

Historical Examples of shriller

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

  • His voice lifted until it was its shriller, more natural falsetto.

  • The landlady grew all the shriller at that, and silenced my mother impatiently.

  • There were voices, too, of shriller intonation, that might have proceeded from the throats of women.

    The Boy Slaves

    Mayne Reid

  • It is a kind of lowing, but shriller, and not near so loud as that of the European Ox.

British Dictionary definitions for shriller



sharp and high-pitched in quality
emitting a sharp high-pitched sound


to utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill tone
(tr) rare to cause to produce a shrill sound
Derived Formsshrillness, nounshrilly, adverb

Word Origin for shrill

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

Word Origin and History for shriller



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