\ 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 Terrified onlookers shriek as the bison slows its charge and moves in to inspect its curious company. Sunset Magazine, "Park Visitors Keep Trying to Get Close to Bison for Some Reason," 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, "All Hail the Return of TV Sports," 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, "Lady Gaga Is Back and Smaller Than Ever," 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, "The Attack on Homeschoolers Is an Attack on American Ideals," 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,, "The Latest Dunkin’ Donuts Menu Item Is An On-The-Go Bag Of “Snackable Bacon”," 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, "Can “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Save Us from Donald Trump?," 4 Mar. 2020 Then, things start to go awry, as a green, shrieking light emanates from the ground. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Trailer for 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' is here, with Paul Rudd and a 'creepy old farmhouse'," 11 Dec. 2019 Seventy-seven Bravolebrities — both current and former — shared the stage at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom in front of a packed house of more than 2,000 adoring, shrieking fans. Tracie Egan Morrissey,, "New NY Housewives announced, plus more highlights from biggest-ever Watch What Happens Live," 17 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Some people on the sidewalk strolled past without a second glance, some with a shriek. New York Times, "Can Blood Manor’s Homicidal Clown Scare People in a Year Like 2020?," 23 Oct. 2020 Spreading air particles through screaming, too, is more chilling than whatever spooky thing is causing the shriek. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "Our columnist says Danger Run is the most 2020-savvy of spooky attractions. Here's why," 13 Oct. 2020 The calliope offends our ears with a shriek of deafening unharmonious music that confounds our senses. Steve West,, "The Confusement Park comes to town | Opinion," 28 Aug. 2020 Heading into the D-Day remembrance weekend this year, only the salty brine coming off the ocean on Omaha Beach hits the nostrils, the shrieks of seagulls pierce the ears and a sense of desolation hangs across the region's country roads. Fox News, "On sad anniversary, few to mourn the D-Day dead in Normandy," 5 June 2020 In residential neighborhoods like mine, the shrieks of children playing leak out from apartment verandas onto empty playgrounds. Max S. Kim, The New Yorker, "The Street Life of Seoul, Rearranged by Coronavirus," 22 Apr. 2020 That sort of strange rising intonation in the shriek. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, ""No Studio Would Touch It:" The Big Gamble Behind 'Kick-Ass'," 16 Apr. 2020 In 2006 a pair of satellites, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mission (XMM-Newton, for short), detected that shriek as a faint spot of radiation coming from a far-off corner of the Milky Way. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "Deep in the Cosmic Forest, a Black Hole Goldilocks Might Like," 6 May 2020 The Akrapovič titanium exhaust system saves nine pounds and will resonate the EcoBoost engine's shriek. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "2020 Ford GT Has More Power, Louder Exhaust," 6 Feb. 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Shriek.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 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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