Definition of shriek in English:



  • 1 Utter a high-pitched piercing sound or words, especially as an expression of terror, pain, or excitement.

    ‘the audience shrieked with laughter’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘There it is!’ she shrieked’
    [with object] ‘she was shrieking abuse at a taxi’
    • ‘Some women staff were fleeing their rooms, shrieking with great excitement.’
    • ‘Consider the most famous image to come out of the Vietnam War: a child doused in napalm, naked, arms upraised, shrieking with pain, running down the road toward us.’
    • ‘After a moment's hesitation, she nearly shrieked with excitement.’
    • ‘It was such an utter loneliness that shrieked almost as loud as the wind.’
    • ‘She now realized that it was she who had shrieked in pain.’
    • ‘The otherwise cool Jane goes shrieking in terror.’
    • ‘Raven shrieked in pain and loosened her grip for a second.’
    • ‘She shrieked in pain from her neck and rested her head down again.’
    • ‘I shrieked with laughter, which is what you do with Rosemary, for her own contagious laugh is as big as she is.’
    • ‘She shrieked with pain, tears rolled down her beautiful, untouched face.’
    • ‘We ascribe to the philosophy that if she's not shrieking in pain, she's fine.’
    • ‘Spectacular rock formations including the Dancing Bear and Druid's Writing Desk, will have your kids shrieking with delight and excitement.’
    • ‘She shrieked in pain when a nurse dabbed ointment on her skin.’
    • ‘Chehl tried to get free, shrieking in pain and terror, but he couldn't break loose.’
    • ‘Sadie shrieked with laughter, and looked up to the sky.’
    • ‘He shrieks in terror at the sight of Gregor's new body and races away to inform the company of Gregor's new state.’
    • ‘I could hear, once more as I'd heard so long ago the people screaming, shrieking in pain and just as before it was the most painful thing I could possibly experience.’
    • ‘It shrieked in pain, and flew off, the others following close behind.’
    • ‘The girl shrieked with laughter, hitting the boy on the shoulder.’
    • ‘I stood there, shrieking with terror, unable to move.’
    scream, screech, squeal, squawk, roar, howl, bellow, bawl, shout, yell, cry, cry out, call, call out, call at the top of one's voice, clamour, bay, cheer, yawp, yelp, squall, caterwaul, whoop, wail
    raise one's voice
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    1. 1.1(of something inanimate) make a high-pitched screeching sound.
      ‘the wheels shrieked as the car sped away’
      • ‘Here all concerns about aid, suasion, and civilizational prejudices were drowned out by shrieking simulators and thundering tanks.’
      • ‘They are the squeaky wheels shrieking for grease.’
      • ‘It shrieks like a scarcely silenced racing car one minute and lopes like a limo the next.’
      • ‘The wheels of the car shrieked in protest as Khanor slammed on the brakes, nearly spinning out.’
      • ‘The screeching metal sounded like innocent angels shrieking and crying from being excommunicated from the riches and comforts of their heaven.’
      • ‘It's more of an erratic growl which shrieks blue murder up towards 6000 revs and beyond.’
      • ‘Right smack in the middle of a furious on-foot chase: doors slamming, legs churning, faces twisting, car alarms shrieking, guns blasting.’
      • ‘Matt pressed himself up against the wall, using the ridge in the side of the building for cover as the car shrieked past amidst the sound of squealing metal.’
      • ‘A terrible shrieking of a car rang out, or perhaps it was the lighting cracking in the distance.’
      • ‘Two nights ago, at the Nyabitaba hut, it was pouring so violently, the tin roof was shrieking.’
      • ‘She saw headlights; she heard shrieking of brakes, it was a car.’
    2. 1.2Be very obvious or strikingly discordant.
      ‘the answer shrieked at her all too clearly’
      ‘the patterned carpets shrieked at Blanche from the shabby store’
      • ‘Commonsense shrieked at me not to let a drop pass my lips, but it was irresistible, like musty goat's cheese straight from the liquidizer.’
      • ‘My mind shrieked at me, demanding that I get out while I could, while my heart was intact.’
      • ‘The interior, even on a Calais, still shrieks its distinctly working car roots; a general plasticky look and feel which ill behoves a $50,000 car.’


  • 1A high-pitched piercing cry or sound; a scream.

    ‘shrieks of laughter’
    • ‘Alex lets out a small shriek, interrupting my thoughts.’
    • ‘The horror stricken shrieks of the driver interrupted his thoughts.’
    • ‘Now maybe it'll go away - It let out a high-pitched shriek and Robyn screamed, now fully awake.’
    • ‘As more and more woke up, a rising chorus of shrieks for help shook hoarfrost from the vaulted stones, and eventually called help.’
    • ‘The louder she gets the more banal her tales sound, and the more pointless her story, the more she hoots and shrieks -’
    • ‘Further pondering was interrupted by a shriek from the inside that let it be known the quarrel over trinkets was still happening.’
    • ‘Nightmares flowed like fever, syncopated by the twitch of a neon light outside and the rhythmic clatter of the air-con, punctuated by the shriek of car horns.’
    • ‘The boy started to scream, not a yell of pain but a high-pitched shriek of panic that reminded me of a rabbit's death throes, which reminded me that I was hungry.’
    • ‘All the shrieks and screams inside sound like wind from the outside.’
    • ‘He heard the shriek of the gale, the clanking of the flag against its mast, the jangling of the jailers chain and his heavy footfall.’
    • ‘With a shriek he doubled over, clutching at his calf, and rolled off his horse into the road.’
    • ‘There was an immediate cacophony of hoots, bellows, screams, shrieks and roars.’
    • ‘The color draining from his cheeks, Shanza floundered for an answer but was interrupted when a shrill shriek cried out across the room.’
    • ‘A prisoner at the Kholodnaya Gora prison had to stuff his ears with bread before sleeping on account of the shrieks of women being interrogated.’
    • ‘Alexis screamed in fear and panic, the piercing shriek echoing throughout the empty library.’
    • ‘He throws his hands to the air and thanks the Lord, in between shrieks of joy and backslapping from his friends.’
    • ‘I opened my mind with the intention of seeing my past, when an eagle's shriek close by interrupted my concentration.’
    • ‘There would be quiet talk, with occasional exclamations, yelps or shrieks from the children, but there was also a basic silence underlying all of it.’
    • ‘That night, however, siren followed siren, loud and close, one winding down only to hear the rising shriek of another.’
    • ‘This time Rebecca did scream, a high-pitched shriek that split the silence of the night, and she turned tail to flee.’
    scream, screech, squeal, squawk, roar, howl, bellow, bawl, shout, yell, cry, call, clamour, bay, cheer, yawp, yelp, squall, caterwaul, whoop, wail
    View synonyms
  • 2informal An exclamation mark.


Late 15th century (as a verb): imitative; compare with dialect screak, Old Norse skrækja, also with screech.