from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. High-pitched and piercing in tone or sound: the shrill wail of a siren.
  • adj. Producing a sharp, high-pitched tone or sound: a shrill fife.
  • adj. Sharp or keen to the senses; harshly vivid: shrill colors.
  • transitive v. To utter in a shrill manner; scream.
  • intransitive v. To produce a shrill cry or sound.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. High-pitched and piercing.
  • adj. Sharp or keen to the senses.
  • v. To make a shrill noise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Acute; sharp; piercing; having or emitting a sharp, piercing tone or sound; -- said of a sound, or of that which produces a sound.
  • n. A shrill sound.
  • intransitive v. To utter an acute, piercing sound; to sound with a sharp, shrill tone; to become shrill.
  • transitive v. To utter or express in a shrill tone; to cause to make a shrill sound.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To utter or emit a keen, piercing, high-pitched sound.
  • To sound shrilly; be shrill.
  • To cause to give out a shrill sound.
  • To utter or produce with a shrill sound.
  • Sharp and piercing in sound; high and keen (somewhat disagreeably so) in voice or note: the common use of the word.
  • Emitting or capable of emitting a sharp, high, piercing sound.
  • Piercing; sharp; affecting the senses sharply or keenly; bright.
  • In a shrill manner; shrilly.
  • n. A keen or piercing sound.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. utter a shrill cry
  • adj. of colors that are bright and gaudy
  • adj. being sharply insistent on being heard
  • adj. having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones


Middle English shrille.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English shrille. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • They are all gone away,
    The house is shut and still,
    There is nothing more to say.

    Through broken walls and gray
    The winds blow bleak and shrill:
    They are all gone away.

    - Edwin Arlington Robinson, 'The House On The Hill'.

    November 16, 2008