Definition of shrill in English:



  • 1(of a voice or sound) high-pitched and piercing.

    ‘a shrill laugh’
    • ‘The girls on the team have shrill voices and the boys sound like they are 35, made worse by dialogue mixed too loud.’
    • ‘In a statement read in court, Joan Turner said he used to let out a low whimpering sound and an occasional high-pitched shrill noise which could keep his mother awake.’
    • ‘The cave echoed and re-echoed with the sounds of shrill squeals and flapping wings.’
    • ‘The shrill sound of the tea whistle gives Beth a reason to avoid the question.’
    • ‘Now, in August, the shrill sound of grasshoppers rang out across the undulating flatland beyond Sand Creek.’
    • ‘A piercing and shrill sound could be heard in the distance.’
    • ‘But our face-off was interrupted by the shrill voice of a woman who stepped into the alcove.’
    • ‘When he thought something ironic, he would let out a high-pitched shrill laugh that sounded like a hyena.’
    • ‘Kara screeched in a shrill voice while Alex yanked his shorts back on with a bit of difficulty.’
    • ‘For the last track on the album, he used 22 violins - no violas or cellos, so you get a very shrill sound.’
    • ‘Amara could hear her voice rising to a shrill whine, as it always did when she was upset.’
    • ‘The man lifted a whistle that hung around his neck and blew into it, causing a sharp, shrill sound to be emitted.’
    • ‘Julian winced slightly at the sound of the shrill voice echoing down the halls, accompanied by thundering footsteps.’
    • ‘A shrill beep sounded in the room and I unceremoniously erupted from the bed.’
    • ‘The phone rings, a shrill echo of sound from kitchen, living room, bedroom.’
    • ‘The shrill sound of Iris's voice (as well as her sharp knocking on the door) immediately changes the mood in the room.’
    • ‘On the grassy knoll beside the silvery Elephant Falls, a shrill cacophony of female voices compete with the roar of the cataract.’
    • ‘Incidentally not once during the five days did the shrill sound of a whistle disturb concentration.’
    • ‘The shrill voice echoed in the earpiece and Judith automatically tilted the phone away from her ear.’
    • ‘The first time it had happened, Peter was sound asleep until the shrill sound of shrieking woke him up with a start.’
    high-pitched, piercing, high, sharp, ear-piercing, ear-splitting, air-rending, penetrating, shattering, strident, loud, strong, intrusive, screeching, shrieking, screechy, squawky
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    1. 1.1derogatory (especially of a complaint or demand) loud and forceful.
      ‘a concession to their shrill demands’
      • ‘It is too prosecutorial in tone, too shrill in its historical judgments.’
      • ‘Yet the shrill protests from Smith's critics revealed less about Smith's work than about their own false and constructed assumptions.’
      • ‘And what I found was that the people who were criticizing him were being just as shrill and obnoxious as he was being onstage at the Oscars.’
      • ‘While the semaphore continues with increasingly shrill demands of ‘do deal now!’’
      • ‘The delegation today is little more than a shrill chorus of the administration's critics.’
      • ‘His left-leaning editorial cartoons were, by his own admission, shrill and unconvincing.’
      • ‘The very notion is ‘insidious, unworthy, diabolical, appalling, shrill and hysterical’.’
      • ‘I suspect they will be even more shrill and irrational while questioning Miers.’
      • ‘The only thing the Left offered was shrill ideology.’
      • ‘It's a tragic tale but never shrill or sentimental in the telling.’
      • ‘The parade went on, despite shrill objections from the Vatican and other religious groups.’
      • ‘The real show of class warfare is the threatened curtailment of charitable status for private schools and the shrill demand that universities take more state-school pupils.’
      • ‘You don't see him walking around making shrill announcements and talking garbage.’
      • ‘Criticism reached shrill heights during the lead-up to the war against the dictator.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, much of this criticism has been shrill.’
      • ‘Bombay society is small, shrill and energetic.’
      • ‘His calamitous ignorance of his system's failure, plus his reluctance to acknowledge it once was drawn to his attention, drew shrill demands for his dismissal.’
      • ‘So far, his shrill denunciations look pretty poor indeed when compared to the output of other people in the Party.’
      • ‘Another is that, while there has always been a puritanical, judgmental side to Musar, this voice has grown louder and more shrill in recent times.’
      • ‘Don't be too harsh, too shrill in attacking the President.’


  • 1 Make a shrill noise.

    ‘a piercing whistle shrilled through the night air’
    • ‘When the phone shrilled on his desk, the tone of the woman on the other end was not a happy one.’
    • ‘As she had feared, the bell shrilled while she was still a dozen steps from the classroom door.’
    • ‘Galahs and lorikeets are shrilling and squawking over their territory in the old Norfolk Island pines and everyone is glad that night, finally, has rescued us from the sun's brutal strength.’
    • ‘The phone shrilled twice before being answered.’
    • ‘Rolan looked away into the distance of grey as a sea gull shrilled into the sky.’
    • ‘What will be going on behind the sideline masks they will wear for most of the time tomorrow when the whistle shrills the start of the Allianz Hurling League final?’
    • ‘By the time the final whistle shrilled through Dr Cullen an exhibition of scoring had been given by the Kildavin-Clonegal team.’
    • ‘Frogs croaked in the ditches; cicadas shrilled in the fields.’
    • ‘Something was shrilling - quite loudly, mind you - directly beside her left ear.’
    • ‘Just when they had arrived in front of Roy's apartment, Michael's cell phone shrilled.’
    • ‘Everyone in the doctor's family is getting ready for a social event, when the telephone shrills urgently.’
    • ‘His cell phone shrilled, breaking his thoughts.’
    • ‘I woke to hear my alarm clock shrilling at me and after shutting it off I went to have a shower and put some make up on.’
    • ‘Once they and the others have paid a tiny tribute to a few families that keep the market area clean, a whistle shrills and the bartering begins.’
    • ‘I awoke to find my phone shrilling loudly, as if threatening to fall off its hook any time.’
    • ‘The telephone shrilled to life, and Devan immediately walked over to answer it.’
    • ‘The next day, just one minute before our alarm clock rings for gym time, my phone took a head start and shrilled loudly.’
    • ‘Four hours later my alarm shrilled, and Bob arrived a half hour after that.’
    • ‘The whistle shrilled and he moved the kettle to a hot pad on the counter for a moment.’
    • ‘The pipe music shrilled suddenly around her, seeming to come from the bushes at her very feet, and at the same moment the great beast slewed round and bore directly down upon her.’
    1. 1.1Speak or cry with a shrill voice.
      [with direct speech] ‘“For God's sake!” shrilled Jan’


  • [in singular] A shrill sound or cry.

    ‘the shrill of a smoke detector filled the air’
    • ‘But for the endless shrill of crickets and the loud whistle of a bird, the silence of the forest was enchanting and complete.’
    • ‘My thoughts got interrupted by the shrill of the bell.’
    • ‘Wake-up time was still several weeks away, so their stiff limbs didn't stir an inch, even with the shrill of our train whistle.’
    • ‘She heard a shrill of laughter that sounded as if it would have split a storm into two halves.’
    • ‘The high shrill of the bell notified the students that the class was over.’
    • ‘I heard a mighty shrill as I stepped into the room.’
    • ‘They were only to be halted by the shrill of the whistle.’
    • ‘The sudden shrill of the cell phone interrupted them.’
    • ‘She woke the next morning to the shrill of the telephone ringing.’
    • ‘There was a full minute of silence after the shrill of his initial response had faded away.’
    • ‘She yells, but her voice takes on a slight shrill.’
    • ‘The shrill of the phone interrupts my melancholy.’
    • ‘The Urlaur fans sensed a comeback and this was confirmed just before the shrill of the half-time whistle when Barry Nolan hit a curling shot into the bottom corner.’
    • ‘The hours dragged on until the school bell rang, its loud shrill signalling the end of the school day.’
    • ‘The shrill of a cell phone disrupted the conversation.’
    • ‘Asha had almost reached the mansion when she heard the screeching sound, sounding like a death shrill to her ears.’
    • ‘Their shrill of their young voices could be heard as they broke the silence of the day in the joy of their play.’
    • ‘Their voices raised to the sharp shrill of a four-year-old just told to eat her vegetables.’
    • ‘Tyler was lost for words, wondering about his reward when he heard a great shrill of excitement from the cash register.’
    • ‘Michael's voice rang through the room with an ear-splitting shrill.’
    screech, scream, shriek, squawk, howl, cry, wail, squall, yawp, yelp, shrill
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Late Middle English: of Germanic origin; related to Low German schrell sharp in tone or taste.