[ tril ]
/ trɪl /
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See synonyms for: trill / trilled on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Origin of trill

First recorded in 1640–50; from Italian trillo, triglio “quaver or warble in singing,” ultimately from Germanic; compare Dutch trillen “to vibrate,” late Middle English trillen “to shake or rock (something)”

Other definitions for trill (2 of 2)

[ tril ]
/ trɪl /

verb (used without object)
to flow in a thin stream; trickle.
verb (used with object)
to cause to flow in a thin stream.

Origin of trill

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English trillen “to make (something) turn, to roll, flow (said of tears, water),” from Old Danish trijlæ “to roll” (said, e.g., of tears and of a wheelbarrow); compare Norwegian trille , Swedish trilla; see trill1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What else does trill mean?

Trill is a blend of true and real, used in hip-hop slang for someone or something that is genuine and authentic.

Where does trill come from?

Well before the slang trill, English had many meanings for it, most notably for a “tremulous” sound in music (1600s) or for the vibrating sound of an R in languages like Spanish (1800s).

The slang trill is unrelated, blending the words true and real. Being trill means being authentic and working hard for your aspirations. In hip-hop culture, being trill is a testament that one is tough and can bounce back—and never forgetting one’s humble roots with success, wealth, and fame.

The hip-hop duo UGK was one of the first to use the slang trill on their 1992 EP The Southern Way. On his 2005 track “Trill,” rapper Paul Wall gave us a straight-up definition:

Trill is when you never fake, trill is when you real
Chasin’ after dollar bills, gotta get it how you live
Trill is when you hustle so you go out there and get it
Doin’ whatever you gotta do to make a meal ticket

Trill has also notably been used by larger-than-life rappers from Master P to Lil Wayne to ASAP Rocky. It’s even hit its full street reach as the name of popular streetwear brand, Been Trill.

In the 2000s, trill further expanded in slang as a nickname for the hood, where things are real.

How is trill used in real life?

Alongside siblings such as vibrato and crescendo, musicians know and use trill. As do writers describing the sound, say, some birds make or how Spanish speakers trill their Rs.

Then, there’s the newer sense of trill, used in slang and hip hop to boast realness before any phony haters.


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use trill in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for trill (1 of 2)

/ (trɪl) /

music a melodic ornament consisting of a rapid alternation between a principal note and the note a whole tone or semitone above itUsual symbol: (written above a note) tr., tr
a shrill warbling sound, esp as made by some birds
  1. the articulation of an (r) sound produced by holding the tip of the tongue close to the alveolar ridge, allowing the tongue to make a succession of taps against the ridge
  2. the production of a similar effect using the uvula against the back of the tongue
to sound, sing, or play (a trill or with a trill)
(tr) to pronounce (an (r) sound) by the production of a trill

Word Origin for trill

C17: from Italian trillo, from trillare, apparently from Middle Dutch trillen to vibrate

British Dictionary definitions for trill (2 of 2)

/ (trɪl) /

verb, noun
an archaic or poetic word for trickle

Word Origin for trill

C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; related to Norwegian trilla to roll; see trill 1
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