Word Origin & History
early 13c., earlier shreamen (c.1200), of uncertain origin, similar to words in Scandinavian, Du., Ger., and Flem. (cf. O.N. "to terrify, scare," Swed. scrana "to scream," O.H.G. scrian, Ger. schreien "to cry"). The noun is attested from 1510s.
"And (as they say) lamentings heard i' th' Ayre; Strange Schreemes of Death." ["Macbeth," II.iii.61]
Shakespeare's spelling probably reflects "sk-" as spelled in words from Latin (e.g. school); he also has schreene for screen. Slang meaning "something that evokes a cry of laughter" is 1903; screamer in this sense is from 1831. Screaming meemies is World War I army slang, originally a soldiers' name for a type of Ger. artillery shell that made a loud noise in flight (from Fr. woman's name Mimi), extended to the battle fatigue caused by long exposure to enemy fire.