Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

skirl

play
verb \ˈskər(-ə)l, ˈskir(-ə)l\

Definition of skirl

of a bagpipe

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter; also :  to give forth music

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to play (music) on the bagpipe



Did You Know?

Not every musical instrument is honored with its very own verb. But then, not every musical instrument emits a sound that quite matches that of a bagpipe. Depending on your ear, you might think bagpipes "give forth music," or you might be more apt to say they shriek. If you are of the latter opinion, your thinking aligns with the earliest sense of skirl - "to shriek." That early sense was used of screeching maids, winds, and the like. Scottish poet Robert Sempill first used it for bagpipes in the mid-1600s. The meaning of skirl has shifted over time, however, and these days you can use the verb without causing offense to bagpipers and bagpipe enthusiasts.

Origin of skirl

Middle English (Scots) skrillen, skirlen to scream, shriek, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect skræla to cry aloud; akin to Old English scrallettan to resound loudly


First Known Use: circa 1665


2

skirl

noun

Definition of skirl

  1. :  a high shrill sound produced by the chanter of a bagpipe



1856

First Known Use of skirl

1856

Rhymes with skirl


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up skirl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a division or portion of a pool or whole

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1926873504

Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?

flashy superficial tetchy gregarious
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ