\ 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

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

As the bats emerged, hawks shrieked and dove into the swarm to catch dinner. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "The Changing Climate Inside the World’s Largest Bat Colony," 6 Aug. 2019 Chavez was completely floored upon meeting the rapper, and shrieked in excitement before the two shared a hug. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Chance the Rapper Surprises March For Our Lives Speaker at WE Day: Exclusive Clip," 1 Aug. 2019 The player can then guide that light toward the shadowy monster in the distance while Kay shrieks in agony. Washington Post, "‘Sea of Solitude’ is a well-meaning misfire," 11 July 2019 Tires don’t shriek when somebody brakes to avoid an opossum transfixed by headlights in the middle of the road. Gena Steffens, Smithsonian, "The Snakes That Ate Florida," 11 July 2019 The windowless restaurant was filled with Nigerian customers shrieking with joy at the sight of familiar dishes, and other couples and families who were here to try something new. Flora Tsapovsky, Bon Appétit, "Meet the 24-Year-Old Owner of Eko Kitchen, San Francisco's First Nigerian Restaurant," 31 July 2019 But the most memorable instrument heard Thursday night was Dickinson’s astonishing vocal, its yearning, ceiling-scraping shrieks nearly indistinguishable from the singer who performed these songs 30 years ago. Ben Crandell,, "Review / Photos: Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden captivate BB&T Center to open Legacy of the Beast Tour," 19 July 2019 When she was patted down, the woman shrieked even louder., "Woman’s shouting disturbs the peace at PEACE Park: Cleveland Heights Police Blotter," 12 July 2019 As more TikTok stars arrived, shrieks echoed throughout the open corridor as fans spotted their favorite creators. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, "Want to be YouTube famous? These social media stars say TikTok is the first step.," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As Randy pantomimed a whipping, Darryl gave a shriek that must have startled all of Stamford. Tom Verducci,, "The Hard, Historic Roads That Lead to Baseball's Magic Number: .400," 8 Aug. 2019 Crunk Witch makes campy, day-glo, video-game, club music with animal prints, falsetto shrieks, work-out grooves and percolating synth lines., "Strike a pose of neon defiance: See Crunk Witch at Cafe Nine," 5 Aug. 2019 Not infrequently, his revels ended with him missing the last train home and retreating to the office to sleep under a desk, where a staffer might discover him with a shriek the next day. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 11 July 2019 Owls were on the hunt, and their shrieks could be heard in the tree canopy high above. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "A Peculiarly Dutch Summer Rite: Children Let Loose in the Night Woods," 21 July 2019 Once properly installed, your Generalized-Anxiety Home-Security System will emit a piercing shriek at irregular intervals throughout the day and night. Riane Konc, The New Yorker, "Your New Generalized-Anxiety Home-Security System," 26 June 2019 Nearby, the faint shrieks of people riding the sprawling Manta roller coaster fill the air every time the trains take a 54-foot plunge. San Diego Union-Tribune, "SeaWorld is finally making a comeback but will PETA’s dolphin campaign stall the rebound?," 22 June 2019 Cotes’s voice sliced through the tumble of crashing drums and drilling bass, dropping to forceful growls and leaping to powerful shrieks with precision. Teta Alim, Washington Post, "D.C.’s Priests put on an explosive set with new album at 9:30 Club," 16 June 2019 The plea came with an excited shriek from Bernice, whose birthday was Tuesday. Sydney Czyzon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee man abruptly pleads guilty to killing 13-year-old Sandra Parks after hearing witness testimony," 11 June 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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Statistics for shriek

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shriek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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