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 shrilly

Contemporary Examples of shrilly

Historical Examples of shrilly

  • Kenly's bugles rang out again, palpably alarmed, shrilly insistent.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • "I don't like," called out Alice shrilly, going straight on.

    Mammon and Co.

    E. F. Benson

  • He sits down before the refusal of his mother and shrilly besieges it.

    The Land of Contrasts

    James Fullarton Muirhead

  • She did not hear the shrilly rejoinder that pursued her through the shut door.

    Guy Deverell, v. 1 of 2

    Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

  • On and on, at a deadly pace, he rode, and shrilly rang out his awful cry.

    The Johnstown Horror

    James Herbert Walker

British Dictionary definitions for shrilly



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 shrilly



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