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ˈshrēk How to pronounce shriek (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈsrēk
shrieked; shrieking; shrieks

intransitive verb

: to utter a sharp shrill sound
: to cry out in a high-pitched voice : screech
: to suggest such a cry (as by vividness of expression)
neon colors shrieked for attentionCalvin Tomkins

transitive verb

: to utter with a shriek
shriek an alarm
: to express in a manner suggestive of a shriek


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: a shrill usually wild or involuntary cry
: a sound resembling a shriek
the shriek of chalk on the blackboard

Example Sentences

Verb The birds were shrieking in the trees. She shrieked when she saw a mouse. Noun the shriek of the train's brakes
Recent Examples on the Web
Then, with a sharp crack and a crescendo of shrieking spectators loaded on the pedestrian walkway in front of towering trusses, the 4-year-old bridge twisted, splintered and rolled over. John O'connor, Chicago Tribune, 30 Apr. 2023 From time to time, a howitzer fires and the shell can be heard shrieking on its arc overhead before exploding on the other side. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 9 Apr. 2023 Not seeing Pirro shrieking like a banshee would alone be worth it. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2023 Unfolding across seven gripping minutes, the track combines pummeling art doom with the alternately wailing and shrieking delivery of vocalist Robin Wattie. Hank Shteamer, SPIN, 22 Feb. 2023 Sometimes a friend’s parent would make an AOL account, and all of us—fumbling through middle school with our screen names and our chat rooms and our passive-aggressive away messages and our Livejournals—would shriek with laughter about it: an old person, on the internet! WIRED, 27 Sep. 2022 Colors pop, performers shriek. Darren Franich,, 5 Jan. 2022 The reactions are priceless: people shriek. Carl Engelking, Discover Magazine, 23 Aug. 2014 Lauren Boebert shrieked in early 2021, during a floor debate on enhanced background checks. Laura Jedeed, The New Republic, 27 Mar. 2023
The actor received the movie star treatment on the red carpet as some fans erupted in applause, tears, and shrieks, hoping to get his autograph and pose for photos together. Jessica Wang,, 16 May 2023 The model may be beast-mode Jason Bourne, but emoting-wise, her professional badass-for-hire is closer to Charles Bronson — barring a few primal screams and pre–torturing-a-lackey shrieks, the character keeps everything on extreme lockdown. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 12 May 2023 Its earthy primitivism, with lurching rhythms, barbaric yawps and garish shrieks, is news that has stayed news, to borrow Ezra Pound’s phrase. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 21 Apr. 2023 Harris’ surprise appearance at the event was greeted with shrieks and applause from the crowd. Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2023 Blue ice cream, a trip up the Eiffel Tower and shrieks from roller coaster riders – Kings Island's opening day is around the corner. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 3 Apr. 2023 The most prominent sound on many platforms is the shriek of a train winding through an aging system. Jesse Remedios,, 7 Mar. 2023 The lemur let out a shriek. Dyan Machan, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 July 2022 DeMar DeRozan's nine-year-old daughter Diar has earned some major credit with her dad after her piercing shrieks during the Toronto Raptor's free throws seemingly helped his team, the Chicago Bulls, pull off a thrilling comeback in the must-win NBA Play-In Tournament. Brandon Livesay, Peoplemag, 13 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shriek.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English shreken, probably irregular from shriken to shriek; akin to Old Norse skrækja to shriek

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shriek was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near shriek

Cite this Entry

“Shriek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to utter a sharp shrill cry
: to cry out in a high-pitched voice


2 of 2 noun
: a sharp shrill cry

More from Merriam-Webster on shriek

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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