\ˈshrēk, especially Southern ˈsrēk\
shrieked; shrieking; shrieks

Definition of shriek 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to utter a sharp shrill sound

2a : to cry out in a high-pitched voice : screech

b : to suggest such a cry (as by vividness of expression) neon colors shrieked for attention— Calvin Tomkins

transitive verb

1 : to utter with a shriek shriek an alarm

2 : to express in a manner suggestive of a shriek



Definition of shriek (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a shrill usually wild or involuntary cry

2 : a sound resembling a shriek the shriek of chalk on the blackboard

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Synonyms for shriek

Synonyms: Verb

howl, scream, screech, shrill, squall, squeal, yell, yelp

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Examples of shriek in a Sentence


The birds were shrieking in the trees. She shrieked when she saw a mouse.


the shriek of the train's brakes
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the race’s final week, amid a national uproar over the Trump administration’s separating children from their parents at the southern border, including images and audio of shrieking children, Mr. Grimm stood by Mr. Trump’s policy. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, "‘It’s Gotten Personal’: Grimm-Donovan Race Nears a Bitter End," 24 June 2018 On the 18th green at Karsten Creek, a foursome of shrieking teammates threw their arms around Haley in a moment of sheer adulation. Beth Ann Nichols, azcentral, "NCAA women's golf championships: Haley Moore emerges as hero for Arizona Wildcats," 24 May 2018 Aside from fright, West shrieks about being a superhero, with his superpower being his bipolar disorder. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Here Are the Lyrics to Kanye West's 'Yikes'," 12 June 2018 That is a happy contrast from the child’s first months, when Jose, who was born with an abnormally small head amid an outbreak of the Zika virus in northeast Brazil, would shriek uncontrollably. Washington Post, "From shrieks in bucket to laughs, Brazil Zika baby improves," 6 June 2018 Privacy - Terms After the woman shrieked for help, Ferguson fled the scene in his SUV. Rebecca Ellis, miamiherald, "Before he drove the wrong way down I-95, he stabbed his girlfriend twice in the neck, cops say," 6 July 2018 The alarm shrieked, teachers slammed shut their classroom doors, and Kayte Alford stood stranded in the hallway. Alden Woods, USA TODAY, "Santa Fe High's disastrous year: From devastating floods to tragic school shooting," 22 May 2018 Guests quietly took their seats and shrieked and shouted in unison during the film. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "A Séance Gone Bad: Hereditary’s New York City Premiere Was All Screams and Shouts," 6 June 2018 The El Moussas often encounter creatures and other discoveries that make Christina shriek in horror. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Everything You Missed From the First 'Flip or Flop' Since Christina and Tarek El Moussa's Divorce," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Gummi Ben's shrieks are legendary and make the magic of the moment even more special for fans around the world., "Watch: Icelandic Announcer Goes Crazy for Country's First Ever World Cup Goal Against Argentina," 16 June 2018 Excited shrieks from fans were near-deafening as all seven BTS members took to the stage to accept, with a sincere speech thanking fans around the globe for their undying support -- both in English and Korean. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "BTS Wins Top Social Artist Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards," 20 May 2018 At a recent Frankie Ace magic show in the lower level of the Hinsdale Public Library, the shouts and shrieks from the kids in the audience could be heard at the entrance. Kimberly Fornek,, "Lyons Township English teacher also works as Frankie Ace, a magician and comic," 9 July 2018 In its shriek, Romy senses the absolute difference between being locked up and being free. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The bold, vivid worlds of Rachel Kushner’s novels," 7 June 2018 The skies are filled with the shriek of coalition aircraft and Iraqi F-16s on their way to strike Islamic State positions. Nabih Bulos,, "It's an awkward dance as the U.S., Russia and Iran all zero in on Islamic State," 22 June 2018 Screams, cheers, lots of screams from grandma (shrieks, even), hugs and kisses as Cameron’s white pants reflected the pink glow and the couple embraced. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "For a mother-to-be (and the dad, too), the ultimate gender-reveal party," 13 May 2018 Few will forget Roseanne Barr's notorious shriek-and-spit rendition at an MLB game in San Diego in 1990, a bizarre fit of malice that had the crowd hooting in derision. Rand Richards Cooper,, "In Our Midst: The Home Of The Brave," 28 Apr. 2018 Followed by the children’s delighted shrieks, Miami Dolphins players Andre Branch, Davon Godchaux, Xavien Howard and Raekwon McMillan, along with cheerleaders and team mascot TD joined the kids for a dance party. Emily Bloch,, "Miami Dolphins and Ashley HomeStore surprise local children with new beds," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shriek.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shriek


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


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shriek


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

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Statistics for shriek

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shriek

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

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More Definitions for shriek



English Language Learners Definition of shriek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make a loud, high-pitched cry

: to say (something) in a loud, high-pitched voice



English Language Learners Definition of shriek (Entry 2 of 2)

: a loud, high-pitched cry or sound


\ˈshrēk \
shrieked; shrieking

Kids Definition of shriek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make a loud high-pitched cry We shrieked with delight.

2 : to say in a loud high-pitched voice She shrieked my name.



Kids Definition of shriek (Entry 2 of 2)

: a loud high-pitched cry or sound

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Comments on shriek

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


lying above or upon

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