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See more synonyms for shrill on Thesaurus.com
adjective, shrill·er, shrill·est.
  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.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to cry shrilly.
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  1. a shrill sound.
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  1. in a shrill manner; shrilly.
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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. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for shrilling

Historical Examples

  • "I've really had a wonderful time," the lavender stocking was shrilling.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • Their shrilling noise is occasioned by a brisk attrition of their wings.

  • It was the shrilling of a police whistle far off down the Embankment.

  • It is brave as voices of the shrilling winds and warmer, viriler.

    I, Mary MacLane

    Mary MacLane

  • He had not run five yards when a chorus of whistles was shrilling.

British Dictionary definitions for shrilling


  1. sharp and high-pitched in quality
  2. emitting a sharp high-pitched sound
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  1. to utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill tone
  2. (tr) rare to cause to produce a shrill sound
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Derived Formsshrillness, nounshrilly, 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

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.).

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper