verb \ ˈthril \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of thrill

thrilled; thrilling; thrills
1 a : to cause to experience a sudden sharp feeling of excitement
  • the news thrilled him
b : to cause to have a shivering or tingling sensation
2 : to cause to vibrate or tremble perceptibly
1 : to become thrilled:
a : to experience a sudden sharp excitement
b : tingle, throb
2 : to move or pass so as to cause a sudden wave of emotion




play \ˈthri-liŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of thrill in a Sentence

  1. Circus performers still thrill audiences today.

  2. I was thrilled by their decision.

Recent Examples of thrill from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of thrill

Middle English thirlen, thrillen to pierce, from Old English thyrlian, from thyrel hole, from thurh through — more at 1through

THRILL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of thrill for English Language Learners

  • : to cause (someone) to feel very excited or happy

  • : to feel very excited or happy about something

THRILL Defined for Kids



verb \ ˈthril \

Definition of thrill for Students

thrilled; thrilling
: to have or cause to have a sudden feeling of excitement or pleasure



History for thrill

In the 1300s a person who was thrilled might not live long enough to tell about it, because the Middle English verb thrillen—the ancestor of our word thrill—meant literally “to pierce” or “stab,” as with a sword or spear. Thrillen was a variant of thirlen, which continued Old English thyrlian, derived from thyrel, “hole.” (The word thyrel also entered into Old English nosthyrl, literally, “nose hole,” the ancestor of modern English nostril.) Because the feeling of being pierced is a little like the experience of being moved by a strong emotion, thrill came to mean “to cause someone to feel excited.”




Definition of thrill for Students

1 : a sudden strong feeling especially of excitement or happiness
  • the thrill of victory
  • … Harry felt a sudden thrill of foreboding.
  • —J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire
2 : something that produces a feeling of excitement
  • The boys went into town in search of thrills.

Medical Dictionary


noun \ ˈthril \

medical Definition of thrill

: an abnormal fine tremor or vibration in the respiratory or circulatory systems felt on palpation
  • a continuous systolic and diastolic murmur, frequently associated with a thrill
  • —R. L. Cecil & R. F. Loeb

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fullness to the point of excess

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