verb (used without object)

to utter a loud, harsh cry, as a duck or other fowl when frightened.
Informal. to complain loudly and vehemently.

verb (used with object)

to utter or give forth with a squawk.


a loud, harsh cry or sound.
Informal. a loud, vehement complaint.
the black-crowned night heron.See under night heron.

Origin of squawk

1815–25; blend of squall2 and hawk3
Related formssquawk·er, noun

Synonyms for squawk

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for squawking

screech, cackle, hoot, yap, squeal, crow, cry, yelp, yawp, caw, protest, bellyache, complain, yammer

Examples from the Web for squawking

Historical Examples of squawking

  • Squawking and yelling children swarmed over the flags and rude cobblestones that paved the ways.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Squawking birds rose in every direction as they approached, and clouds of gulls circled around crying the alarm.

    Bobby of the Labrador

    Dillon Wallace

  • Squawking chickens darted to safety and a flock of geese waddled off hissing their protest.

    The Secret of the Sundial

    Mildred A. Wirt, AKA Ann Wirt

British Dictionary definitions for squawking



a loud raucous cry; screech
informal a loud complaint or protest


to utter a squawk or with a squawk
(intr) informal to complain loudly
Derived Formssquawker, noun

Word Origin for squawk

C19: of imitative origin
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 squawking



1821, probably of imitative origin (cf. dialectal Italian squacco "small crested heron"). The noun is attested from 1850. Squawk-box "loud-speaker" is from 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper