Definition of trill in English:



  • 1A quavering or vibratory sound, especially a rapid alternation of sung or played notes.

    ‘they heard the muffled trill of the telephone’
    ‘the caged bird launched into a piercing trill’
    • ‘At Newport, 52.4% of the males sang a hybrid trill.’
    • ‘A cadenza-coda preserves the rocking thirds through whirring trills and clattering arpeggios.’
    • ‘There were daring dynamics in the first movement and a riveting cadenza in which the trill conveyed a sense of optimism in switching from minor to major in the final hushed codetta.’
    • ‘The taps and trills sound like the evocations of a stoned beatbox supremo, yet this is a highly scripted, rhythmically structured and technically complex genre.’
    • ‘In the second section the flute ignites sparks of tone through rapid tonguing, tremolos, staccatos and trills as the tape sounds ebb and flow, gradually evolving from one harmony to the next.’
    • ‘Without pause, the finale begins with strings slashing through the drumming, followed by woodwind trills and a skipping melody.’
    • ‘An Islamic origin would help to explain the sound of some of the melodies, which are frequently ornamented with trills and grace notes, and are sometimes based around minor modes.’
    • ‘It is six minutes of nonstop playing requiring rapid passage work, double-note trills in one hand and virtuoso octaves.’
    • ‘It starts with edgy trills from the soloist, but its overall direction of travel is into the silent darkness.’
    • ‘The disadvantages are the impossibility of playing some chords and the need to be neat-fingered when playing trills on two notes which share a string.’
    • ‘Lees interrupts his slow movement with yet another quick toccata passage of trills, which leads to a remarkable section where the trill slows down to its motific atoms: the rising and falling half-step.’
    • ‘For example, when you slow down a recording, trills and vibrato slow down, too.’
    • ‘Astounding again are Hampson's vocal options displayed here, from ordinary chest voice to virtuous trills.’
    • ‘The song is an instrumental, centered around a long guitar solo in which Pike again keeps it slow, taking a break from his trademark hammering trills and letting the notes hang while the rhythm section pummels away furiously.’
    • ‘His passionate performance moved swiftly and easefully onto important climaxes and drew some appealing colours in the rarified textures, such as the finale's triple trills, and the fugue was virtuoso.’
    • ‘The more you embellish your note with seemingly pointless trills and scales, the more you care.’
    • ‘Ornamentation in the form of trills on notes was also added.’
    • ‘One might consider a slow working out of this process with ‘freeze-frame’ practice on the note before the trill.’
    • ‘After the cor anglais, the oboe and the clarinet, the wind ensemble sings ‘Alleluia’ under a luminous haze of trills and harmonies in the strings.’
    • ‘In his effort to successfully attain variation of material, as well as timbre imitation, he employs a wide variety of ornaments such as mordents, trills, broken chords and appoggiaturas.’
    1. 1.1 The pronunciation of a consonant, especially r, with rapid vibration of the tongue against the hard or soft palate or the uvula.
      • ‘We categorized songs as local or nonlocal dialect based on the nature of the note complex and the trill.’
      • ‘There is a small error in the article on the addition of a symbol for the labiodental flap to the International Phonetic Alphabet: the bilabial trill does not still await its day.’
      • ‘These may have final postvocalic /r/ and a medial /r/ as trill or tap.’
      • ‘There are no melodramatic trills or fluting crescendos in her everyday speech.’
      • ‘Holding the reins of his cart pony, he gave a sharp trill of his tongue.’
      • ‘The tongue trills of the Irish singer Roger Whittaker continue to delight audiences the world over.’
      • ‘‘Zoe -’ Antonio said, but a soft trill sounded before he could finish.’


  • 1 Produce a quavering or warbling sound.

    ‘a skylark was trilling overhead’
    [with direct speech] ‘“Coming sir,” they both trilled’
    [with object] ‘trilling a love ballad, she led him to her chair’
    • ‘I kneeled to the crickets trilling underfoot as if about to burst from their crusty shells; and like a child again marvelled to hear so clear and brave a music pour from such a small machine.’
    • ‘‘Oh, I sent them over to the Parkers,’ she trilled.’
    • ‘Her heart trilled at being able to teach a class.’
    • ‘Indeed, so far she has appeared to perform better with the noise trilling in her ears.’
    • ‘It's five to ten times higher than what we are showing,’ he trilled.’
    • ‘‘Oh, my goodness,’ she trilled as she sprinkled spicy cheese over the freshly fried chips.’
    • ‘‘He's no junk male,’ she trills in one commercial, summing up a campaign that recycles the same gag.’
    • ‘A feminine giggle trilled in his ear, but it wasn't Jenny's.’
    • ‘Birds of every kind chirped around her, trilling and squawking and before long, she opened her eyes to see pillars of light shine down on her: the sun through the tangled mess of branches in the pine above her.’
    • ‘A wooden flute trills what sounds like an Eastern melody.’
    • ‘Jonathan began to trill quietly, chirping and twittering at intervals and growing steadily louder.’
    • ‘Persistently, my phone continues to happily trill.’
    • ‘From its first unsettling minutes, where piano, flutes, violins, harp and tuned percussion trill, pluck and flutter over a gently dissonant ostinato bass, the symphony unfolds an almost seamless 26-minute structure.’
    • ‘But on the sunlit walls, suddenly trilling like car alarms, small brightly coloured birds were hung in cages outside shops.’
    • ‘On a wooden desk below the banks of television screens, two heavy black phones trill.’
    • ‘‘I said,’ he nearly trilled, ‘What were you doing in the bathroom, anyway?’’
    • ‘‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we're only moments away from a brand new year,’ the DJ trilled.’
    • ‘The breeze was light and warm, and the small stream, which ran out of the forest, trilled and bubbled in soft music.’
    • ‘She's been trilling away about her feelings following the verdict.’
    • ‘But there's a self-obsessed drama type weaving and trilling and agonising and monopolising the stall owners.’
    warble, sing, chirp, chirrup, tweet, twitter, cheep, peep
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object] Pronounce (a consonant) by rapid vibration of the tongue against the hard or soft palate or the uvula.
      • ‘He offers many practical exercises for tongue tension, nasality, diction problems, such as the flipped and trilled Italian ‘r’, and other localized tension problems.’
      • ‘Next came the four trilled vowels, and unlike the wingless race he resembled, the ava mastered them with little effort.’
      • ‘Apparently Thais don't trill their tongue skillfully enough to produce an intelligible ‘r’ sound.’
      • ‘The bare-chested frontman sports a handlebar mustache that seems to unroll every time he trills a buccaneer rrrr.’
      • ‘Women greet each other by ululating, or making a high pitched sound by trilling the tongue.’
      • ‘One historian claimed that women were responsible for the loss of tongue trilled /r/ in English and other languages.’
      • ‘The Scottish accent, with it's trilling r's, startled Lars.’


Mid 17th century: from Italian trillo (noun), trillare (verb).