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"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.