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[skur-ling] /ˈskɜr lɪŋ/
noun, Scot. and North England
the act of shrieking.
Origin of skirling
1775-85; skirl + -ing1


[skurl] /skɜrl/
verb (used without object)
to play the bagpipe.
Scot. and North England. to shriek.
the sound of a bagpipe.
Scot. and North England. any shrill sound.
1350-1400; Middle English scirlen, skrillen (v.), perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Norwegian skrella boom, crash Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for skirling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I could hear the skirling sword-clashes of the final fight to the death of the two Macks, Duff and Beth.

    No Great Magic Fritz Reuter Leiber
  • Very faint, from far in the distance, there is heard a skirling sound.

  • Police whistles were skirling around the house of Huang Chow.

    Tales of Chinatown Sax Rohmer
  • She played absent-mindedly, her fingers skipping and skirling on the notes.

    The Black Opal Katharine Susannah Prichard
  • A' this time Mrs. Gourlay was skirling in her pains and praying to God she micht dee.

    The House with the Green Shutters George Douglas Brown
  • At last this word was given, and the procession began its march amidst the cheers of the people and a skirling of the pipes.

  • Scarlett came in a moment after and sniffed, with his nose in the air; then he walked to the pan in which the bacon was skirling.

    Lochinvar S. R. Crockett
  • He had not been many months engaged in his laborious work when he was solicited to remove to the parish of skirling, near Biggar.

  • And there would be a fiddler diddling his elbock in the chimney-side; and this thing had nae music but the skirling of the solans.

British Dictionary definitions for skirling


/skɜːl; Scottish skɪrl/
verb (intransitive)
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) (esp of bagpipes) to emit a shrill sound
to play the bagpipes
the sound of bagpipes
a shrill sound
Word Origin
C14: probably of Scandinavian origin; see shrill
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 skirling



"to make a shrill sound," mid-15c., from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian skyrlaskrella "to shriek"), of imitative origin. In reference to bagpipes, it is attested by 1660s and now rarely used otherwise. As a noun 1510s from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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