skirl

verb
\ ˈskər(-ə)l How to pronounce skirl (audio) , ˈskir(-ə)l \
skirled; skirling; skirls

Definition of skirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

of a bagpipe : to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter also : to give forth music

transitive verb

: to play (music) on the bagpipe

skirl

noun

Definition of skirl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a high shrill sound produced by the chanter of a bagpipe

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

Verb

Not every musical instrument is honored with its very own verb. But then, not every musical instrument emits a sound that quite matches that of a bagpipe. Depending on your ear, you might think bagpipes "give forth music," or you might be more apt to say they shriek. If you are of the latter opinion, your thinking aligns with the earliest sense of skirl - "to shriek." That early sense was used of screeching maids, winds, and the like. Scottish poet Robert Sempill first used it for bagpipes in the mid-1600s. The meaning of skirl has shifted over time, however, and these days you can use the verb without causing offense to bagpipers and bagpipe enthusiasts.

Examples of skirl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then came the twirling, colorful, ruffled dresses of dancers from Grupo Folklorico de Bendiciones followed by the precision of the San Antonio Pipes & Drums, complete with the skirl of bagpipes and booming of drums. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, "The Old West comes alive on downtown streets at San Antonio’s Western Heritage Parade and Cattle Drive," 1 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skirl.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of skirl

Verb

circa 1665, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1856, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for skirl

Verb

Middle English (Scots) skrillen, skirlen to scream, shriek, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect skræla to cry aloud; akin to Old English scrallettan to resound loudly

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about skirl

Time Traveler for skirl

Time Traveler

The first known use of skirl was circa 1665

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about skirl

Statistics for skirl

Cite this Entry

“Skirl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skirl. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

Comments on skirl

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!