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shrill

[shril] /ʃrɪl/
adjective, shriller, shrillest.
1.
high-pitched and piercing in sound quality:
a shrill cry.
2.
producing such a sound.
3.
full of or characterized by such a sound:
shrill music.
4.
betraying some strong emotion or attitude in an exaggerated amount, as antagonism or defensiveness.
5.
marked by great intensity; keen:
the shrill, incandescent light of the exploding bomb.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
6.
to cry shrilly.
noun
7.
a shrill sound.
adverb
8.
in a shrill manner; shrilly.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English shrille (adj., v.); akin to Old English scrallettan to sound loudly; cognate with German schrill (adj.), schrillen (v.); compare Old Norse skrīll rabble
Related forms
shrillness, noun
shrilly, adverb
outshrill, verb (used with object)
unshrill, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for shrill
  • In the golden age of sail, a ship's crew was focused on the shrill and piercing sound of the boatswain's whistle.
  • Still, some of the settings sound somewhat shrill out of the box.
  • When alarmed it utters a shrill high- pitched chirping whistle accompanied by twitches of its tail and body.
  • Do not make shrill or high pitch noises as these may attract bears.
  • To say that the whole deficit thing was a political ploy, with no substance behind it, sounded shrill.
  • But its leaders are increasingly unhappy about the shrill attacks.
  • In the same instant came the shrill trumpets of elephants angered by the hyena cries.
  • But it's best to approach the store with a well-reasoned argument instead of shrill demands.
  • The shrill ring of her call had woken me in the night.
  • The train blasts out a shrill whistle which my nephew imitates intermittently for the next couple of hours with piercing accuracy.
British Dictionary definitions for shrill

shrill

/ʃrɪl/
adjective
1.
sharp and high-pitched in quality
2.
emitting a sharp high-pitched sound
verb
3.
to utter (words, sounds, etc) in a shrill tone
4.
(transitive) (rare) to cause to produce a shrill sound
Derived Forms
shrillness, noun
shrilly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: probably from Old English scralletan; related to German schrill shrill, Dutch schrallen to shriek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shrill
adj.

late 14c., schrylle "high-pitched, piercing" (of the voice), probably related to Old English scralletan "to sound loudly" and of imitative origin (cf. Low German schrell, German schrill "piercing, shrill"). Related: Shrillness; shrilly (adv.).

v.

"to sound shrilly," c.1300, imitative (see shrill (adj.). Related: Shrilled; shrilling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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