1 of 2


thrilled; thrilling; thrills
transitive : to cause (someone) to experience a strong feeling of enjoyable excitement
The news thrilled him.
a performance that thrilled the crowd
It's just one of the 35 breathtaking stunts the 47-year-old daredevil pilot uses to thrill spectators at airshows across the country.Jean Bryant
see also thrilled, thrilling
intransitive : to experience a surge of excitement and pleasure
They thrilled to the sound of his voice.
She remembers that her father thrilled to see his daughter's name in print …David Ansen
From the beginning, Americans thrilled to the Hubble's potential to do dramatic science, to take us intellectually where no one has gone before.Chet Raymo
Kit thrilled at the sight of the familiar red coats.Elizabeth George Speare
intransitive, chiefly literary
: to move or pass so as to cause a sudden wave of emotion
… a faint cold fear thrills through my veins …William Shakespeare
: tremble entry 1, vibrate
… the very rocks seem to thrill with life.John Muir


2 of 2


plural thrills
: a feeling of great excitement or happiness
The thrill isn't gone from our marriage after all this time.
the thrill of discovery/victory
"The most fun thing I've done so far," [Dorothy] Parke reports, "is put my foot through a window. It was only breakaway glass; but it was my first stunt, and it gave me such a thrill."Paul Francis
: a tingling of or as if of the nerves produced by a sudden emotional reaction
a thrill of horror
a thrill of pride/pleasure/anticipation
Harry felt a thrill of dread: He was about to pay for what had just happened, he was sure of it.J. K. Rowling
: a very exciting or enjoyable event or experience
What a thrill it was to see the Queen!
a movie with a lot of thrills and chills [=exciting and frightening parts]
the thrills and spills of skateboarding
He had always fancied himself as having a fine voice, and now to hear it from his wife's own lips was a real thrill.E. B. White

Examples of thrill in a Sentence

Verb Circus performers still thrill audiences today. I was thrilled by their decision.
Recent Examples on the Web
There may never be a definitive, conclusive list of the best jackets that thrills every jawns-seeker, but there will be one—this one!—that will get the conversation going. Isaiah Freeman-Schub, Robb Report, 21 Sep. 2023 Average nightly hotel rate: $156 Houston If visiting Texas’ third-largest city wasn’t thrilling enough, then maybe visiting the state’s largest city, Houston, will do the trick. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 20 Sep. 2023 In April 2022, Ozturk traveled to Naaman’s lab in Israel, thrilled by the prospect of testing their hypothesis. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Quanta Magazine, 6 Sep. 2023 Many of the 100 acres of water attractions are thrilling—like the 50-foot water slide in total darkness—but require kids to be at least 48 inches tall. Karen Cicero, Parents, 14 Sep. 2023 Even though there is more renovations to do, Stevi and Bryant are thrilled with the changes. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 13 Sep. 2023 Many Republicans were thrilled by the ruling, but were subsequently alarmed by the political backlash in Kansas, a GOP stronghold, and Ohio, a reddish swing state. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 His audience of longtime cinephiles — including some who have been customers since the Hamilton video store days — was thrilled by the choice. Billy Baker,, 10 Sep. 2023 Record: 10-7 CBS Sports’ John Breech: My bosses at CBS would certainly be thrilled to see the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Sportsday Staff, Dallas News, 9 Sep. 2023
The thrill comes from a rotating cast of toppings that might include pork meatballs, chile and garden mint, or confit cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion and ricotta with pops of fresh green coriander and honey. Melissa Clark, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 But at the same time, the thrill of seeing my face on the cover of an album — to some extent, that excitement has not gone away. Sigal Ratner-Arias, Billboard, 15 Sep. 2023 All of this was part of the experience, part of the thrill. Barry Samaha, Robb Report, 13 Sep. 2023 Share [Findings] Young burglars are driven first by thrills, then by skills. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 13 Sep. 2023 The best illustrations are the ones that show a lot of energy based on the thrill of the look, bag, shoe, or other fashion subject. Vogue, 8 Sep. 2023 Most of today’s high-performance electric cars deliver their thrills in a massively powerful but precise and ultimately anodyne way. WIRED, 6 Sep. 2023 The week's itinerary teased a tantalizing promise: an insider's journey, an intimate pilgrimage through the heart of the Alpine region, navigated through the torque and thrill of supercars. Paul Jebara, Town & Country, 5 Sep. 2023 It’s guided by the easy suspense and reliable thrill of betting big and winning. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 15 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thrill.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


circa 1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of thrill was in 1599

Dictionary Entries Near thrill

Cite this Entry

“Thrill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to experience or cause to experience a sudden strong feeling of excitement
the news thrilled him
: vibrate sense 2, tremble
a voice thrilling with emotion


2 of 2 noun
: a sudden strong emotion often accompanied by a tingling sensation
gets a thrill of excitement from riding the roller coaster
felt a thrill of fear
: something that thrills
seeing my picture in the newspaper was a thrill


Middle English thirlen, thrillen "to pierce," from Old English thyrlian (same meaning) from thyrel "a hole," from thurh "through" — related to nostril, thorough, through

Word Origin
Today when we speak of being thrilled, we are referring to a very pleasing experience. But it was not always so. The Old English word thyrlian, which gave us thrill, meant "to pierce" as with an arrow or spear. The Old English word came from an earlier word thyrel, meaning "hole." Thyrel has also given us two other Modern English words, through and thorough. It has also given us the last half of the word nostril, which literally means "nose hole." During the Middle English period the verb thyrlian became thirlen and continued to mean "to pierce." It also was the basis of the new verb thrillen, meaning "to penetrate." Then a connection was made between the physical sensation of being pierced and the emotional feeling of being suddenly and sharply excited. A new sense was born, which became the chief meaning of our thrill.

Medical Definition


: 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 thrillR. L. Cecil & R. F. Loeb

More from Merriam-Webster on thrill

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