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See more synonyms for skirl on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to play the bagpipe.
  2. Scot. and North England. to shriek.
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  1. the sound of a bagpipe.
  2. Scot. and North England. any shrill sound.
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Origin of skirl

1350–1400; Middle English scirlen, skrillen (v.), perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian skrella boom, crash
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for skirl

blare, hiss, sound, signal, whine, warble, pipe, toot, whiz, wheeze, blast, shriek, fife, trill, tootle, flute, skirl

Examples from the Web for skirl

Historical Examples of skirl

  • Dancing was engaged in around the bonfire to the skirl of the philabeg.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, February 4, 1914


  • Come here—or stay where ye are, and skirl as loud as ye can; it's a' ye're gude for.

    Bride of Lammermoor

    Sir Walter Scott

  • Then a skirl of laughter, the piercingness of which, near to, could only be guessed at.

  • Cannot one hear the skirl of the pipes amid that din of cannon and musketry?

    The Red Year

    Louis Tracy

  • Shriller than the scream of shells above them was the skirl of pipes, going with them.

    Now It Can Be Told

    Philip Gibbs

British Dictionary definitions for skirl


verb (intr)
  1. Scot and Northern English dialect (esp of bagpipes) to emit a shrill sound
  2. to play the bagpipes
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  1. the sound of bagpipes
  2. a shrill sound
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Word Origin for skirl

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; see shrill
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 skirl


"to make a shrill sound," mid-15c., from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian skyrlaskrella "to shriek"), of imitative origin. In reference to bagpipes, it is attested by 1660s and now rarely used otherwise. As a noun 1510s from the verb.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper