\ ˈshrēk How to pronounce shriek (audio) , 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

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Examples of shriek in a Sentence

Verb The birds were shrieking in the trees. She shrieked when she saw a mouse. Noun the shriek of the train's brakes
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As throngs of fans shriek with joy, the singer-songwriter extends the song's famous intro with a few bars of extra ad-libs before launching into the first verse. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, "Watch This Vintage Performance of Mariah Carey Singing 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' in Japan," 3 Dec. 2019 As the fans shrieked over the unexpected curtain call, Garvey raced along the fence shaking every hand in reach. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: 35 years ago the Padres won their first trip to the World Series," 8 Oct. 2019 Nyree O’Reilly recalls getting a phone call from Donevin but hearing only shrieking tears on the other end, then receiving a text from one of his teammates telling her to hurry to Storrs. Alex Putterman,, "Back from ACL injury, former UConn football walk-on Donevin O’Reilly hopes to give underdog story a happy ending," 13 Aug. 2019 Predictably, student protesters shrieked and tried to disrupt Session’s speech. John Kass,, "Column: Northwestern University, the cancel culture and ‘Whatsoever things are true’," 15 Nov. 2019 That 1996 tune, along with the band’s usual relentless and punishing riffs, featured a rare-for-Tool scream-along chorus, of which the crowd shrieked every profane word. Washington Post, "It’s hard to see the members of Tool when the band plays live, but it sure is thrilling to hear them," 26 Nov. 2019 Think hunter-gatherers, Crusaders, shrieking Dothraki hordes, or, more reasonably, Dust Bowl circus carnies, traveling town to town, entertaining (and swindling) the rubes. Charlton Pettus, New York Times, "41 Days, 26 Shows, 10 Countries: A Rock Tour Diary," 16 Oct. 2019 Though Abdul’s reaction could not be heard through the speakers, multiple concertgoers shrieked out of concern for the star. Lydia Price,, "16 Brave Singers Who Survived Absolutely Brutal Stage Falls," 18 Oct. 2019 Their wives, seated in the shade of a fishing hut, used toothbrushes and rags to clean them — sometimes shrieking in pain from being pinched. Washington Post, "Fishermen live in stain of Venezuela’s broken oil industry," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rising 220 feet, the sight of the ride’s imposing structure gets pulses racing and palms sweaty even before the sounds of its passengers’ shrieks and screams reverberate in the park. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Barrel roll at 197 feet: New Steelers-themed coaster at Kennywood sets records, thrills riders," 12 Aug. 2019 In the days of newspaper typesetters, the exclamation point was called the shriek. Kevin Fisher-paulson,, "The punctuation styles are a-changin’," 10 Dec. 2019 Check out a teaser above for the Us attraction, which will elicit shrieks alongside the parks’ first-ever Ghostbusters maze and another turn for Stranger Things. Mary Sollosi,, "Universal's Halloween Horror Nights to feature maze inspired by Jordan Peele's Us," 7 Aug. 2019 In one chilling case at village Heff Shirmal in Shopian, the shrieks of a person being tortured were allegedly relayed on a loudspeaker to the surrounding villages. Riyaz Wani, Quartz India, "Long before revoking Kashmir’s autonomy, India had a ready plan to quell protests," 2 Dec. 2019 The noises from above were atrocious: blasts of fire, grunts of pain, shrieks of rage. cleveland, "Emerald Forest-wind: A story from Write About Now," 19 Nov. 2019 Yet on this first day of school — as scores of yellow buses took to the streets and students greeted one another with hugs and shrieks of excitement — the outside world also brought in a modicum of help. Los Angeles Times, "Homeless kids, chronic absenteeism, frustrated parents: L.A. Unified is back to school and trying to help," 20 Aug. 2019 Brunson joked as a shriek can be heard in the background. Leada Gore |, al, "Squirrel got loose in an Alabama church and no, that’s not a country song," 28 Oct. 2019 There are ferocious growls and unbridled sobs, anguished shrieks and boyish gasps. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, "Men at Work," 28 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for shriek

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shriek

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shriek.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for shriek


How to pronounce shriek (audio)

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 How to pronounce shriek (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on shriek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shriek

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shriek

Spanish Central: Translation of shriek

Nglish: Translation of shriek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shriek for Arabic Speakers

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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