\ ˈshril How to pronounce shrill (audio) , especially Southern ˈsril\
shrilled; shrilling; shrills

Definition of shrill

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to utter or emit an acute piercing sound



Definition of shrill (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : having or emitting a sharp high-pitched tone or sound : piercing
b : accompanied by sharp high-pitched sounds or cries shrill gaiety
2 : having a sharp or vivid effect on the senses shrill light
3 : strident, intemperate shrill anger shrill criticism



Definition of shrill (Entry 3 of 3)

: a shrill sound the shrill of the ship's whistle

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Other Words from shrill


shrill adverb
shrillness noun
shrilly \ ˈshril-​lē How to pronounce shrilly (audio) , especially Southern  ˈsril-​ \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for shrill

Synonyms: Verb

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

Synonyms: Adjective

high-pitched, piping, screeching, shrieking, squeaking, squeaky, treble, whistling

Antonyms: Adjective

bass, deep, grave, low, throaty

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Examples of shrill in a Sentence


the mud-splattered bystanders were shrilling with outrage at the inconsiderate motorist


the shrill sound of a policeman's whistle

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

They were mostly offered only by feminism, and in the 1980s, mainstream culture considered feminism shrill and unfashionable. Constance Grady, Vox, "The rape culture of the 1980s, explained by Sixteen Candles," 27 Sep. 2018 Enter aspiring actress Kathy Selden (Reynolds) to dub over Lina’s shrill in order to save the movie and their careers, with just a dash of love along the way. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "40 Classic Movies You Should See If You Love Rom-Coms," 2 Feb. 2017 At any given moment, actual progressives on Twitter are reacting with shrill hysteria to a false right-wing meme designed to provoke them into just such a reaction. Aja Romano, Vox, "Sacha Baron Cohen’s political provocations are exhausting and dangerous," 13 July 2018 Joanna Latini brought an expressive soprano and lithe physicality to the Vixen; as her mate, the Fox, Alyssa Martin was shrill. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "The Glimmerglass Festival and ‘A Quiet Place’ Reviews," 13 Aug. 2018 The shrill sound of a siren blared long enough Wednesday at Halas Hall for the Bears to clear the practice field quickly, alerting everyone to the presence of lightning. David Haugh,, "Quietly, emerging leader Jordan Howard catching onto Bears' new offense," 31 May 2018 The harsh hawking permeating from speaker boxes, shrill voices barking political speeches in a static loop. Chicago Tribune,, "Algren Award runner-up: "Fluid Mechanics" by Mabel Yu," 2 June 2018 It’s too easy for politicians looking for a boogeyman to think of reporters as the shrill pundits arguing on TV. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "I’m feeling like a kid in America after the shootings of my fellow journalists," 28 June 2018 One problem is that the liberal humor elite is increasingly shrill in its insistence that jokes be funny, or at least mildly amusing. Scott Ostler,, "Swaggy P goes one joke over the line," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The shrills first arose when the record-signing refused teammate Edinson Cavani the opportunity to make history by not allowing him to take a penalty against Olympique Lyon., "Concerns About Neymar's Long Term PSG Future as Brazilian Finds Appeasing Parisians Challenging," 24 Jan. 2018 Inside a lobby of a downtown Tuscaloosa hotel, the shrill of a phone ring echoes. Rainer Sabin,, "How the coach who followed Bear Bryant still has his fingerprints on Alabama," 29 Aug. 2017 Inside are piles of shrill and whining piccolo petes, neon flame-spouting blazing rebels and mounds of sparklers. Alex Harris, miamiherald, "Under the white tents, fireworks salespeople have big dreams for the money they make," 3 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shrill.' 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 shrill


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1589, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shrill


Middle English; probably akin to Old English scrallettan to resound loudly — more at skirl

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Time Traveler for shrill

The first known use of shrill was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for shrill



English Language Learners Definition of shrill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



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

: having a very loud, high-pitched sound
: loud and difficult to ignore but often unreasonable


\ ˈshril How to pronounce shrill (audio) \
shrilled; shrilling

Kids Definition of shrill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make a high-pitched usually piercing sound
2 : to say in a loud high-pitched voice “Will!” a voice shrilled, and Mary came flying up the drive.— Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising


shriller; shrillest

Kids Definition of shrill (Entry 2 of 2)

: having a high-pitched usually piercing sound a shrill whistle

Other Words from shrill

shrillness noun
shrilly \ ˈshril-​lē \ adverb She spoke shrilly.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shrill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrill

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shrill

Spanish Central: Translation of shrill

Nglish: Translation of shrill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shrill for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shrill

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


a strong desire or propensity

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