\ 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

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 But the options were scant: motel rooms or apartments way too small for a family of nine, with dogs and a macaw that liked to shriek at random and eat crown molding. Madalyn Amato, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2021 While many business owners shriek at the thought of them, there are tactful ways to handle bad online reviews, save the customer from leaving for the competition, and even offer you a chance to learn how to make your product or service better. Rebecca Kowalewicz, Forbes, 10 Mar. 2021 Terrified onlookers shriek as the bison slows its charge and moves in to inspect its curious company. Sunset Magazine, 4 Sep. 2020 For us, watching soccer together offers an opportunity not only to shriek and cuss and, very occasionally, dash a fist against a wall, but also to pool our emotions as father and son. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 17 June 2020 Other highlights show Gaga’s knack for tunes in which incongruous-seeming passages—silky one moment, shrieking the next—fit together deliciously. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 1 June 2020 Bartholet frets that homeschoolers might grow up not even minding the gendered nature of household labor enough to shriek about it in a letter to Dear Prudence. Kyle Smith, National Review, 23 Apr. 2020 After all, how many drive-through friendly food items are there that small children, celiacs, and Keto-ascribers can all shriek with delight over? Jennifer Gerson,, 26 Feb. 2020 The students shrieked as thirteen drag queens in full makeup and glittering regalia came bounding into the room. Lizzie Widdicombe, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some species will sashay and shimmy and shriek; others are more muted, satisfied to simply bow and nod, and click and clack their beaks together. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2021 However, in the Z06, there's a trick that should get more of its shriek into the cabin. Dave Vanderwerp, Car and Driver, 26 Oct. 2021 Keaton's reaction was daytime-television gold: a true shriek of joy as Bieber goes in for an embrace. Sabrina Park, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Oct. 2021 The regen is effective, and the transparency of this one-pedal approach is a smooth alternative to an incessantly pulsing ABS pump and the shriek of engine braking. Derek Powell, Car and Driver, 29 Sep. 2021 The cows make her shriek, the way that city rats might alarm a country child. New York Times, 28 Sep. 2021 After her unexpected feat — even her own team had not considered Zolotic a contender for gold — the 18-year-old from Florida let out one last ear-piercing shriek and then, wearing a mask, clambered onto a podium to receive her prize. New York Times, 28 July 2021 So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Erik Kain, Forbes, 17 June 2021 His first wife, Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva, who knew nothing of his previous ailments, suddenly heard his unearthly shriek and witnessed his convulsive movements, fainting, foaming at the mouth, and uncontrolled urination. Gary Saul Morson, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Shriek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on shriek

Nglish: Translation of shriek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shriek for Arabic Speakers


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