AskDefine | Define shrill

Dictionary Definition

shrill adj : high-pitched and sharp; "piercing screams"; "a shrill whistle" [syn: piercing, sharp] v : utter a shrill cry [syn: shriek, pipe up, pipe]

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English shrille.


  • /ʃɹɪl/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪl


  1. High-pitched and piercing.
  2. Sharp or keen to the senses.


High-pitched and piercing
Sharp or keen to the senses


  1. To make a shrill noise.


Extensive Definition

Shrillness denotes the harsh, strident quality a sound has. Some instruments, like the piccolo have a shrillness in the upper register; thus notes there are mostly used for ornamentation. In the human voice, shrillness relates to the degree in which a vocal sounds like a scream. Although any pitch, high or low, can be shrill, the terminology usually is applied to sounds high in the whistle register, where the difference between a musical note and a blood curdling scream can be thin.
The term "shrill" can be used as an insulting descriptive, used in the context of someone who is often angry and rude. In this context, "shrill" has become a popular term for bloggers.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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