Last modified on 24 January 2015, at 02:52




From Middle English scrycke, probably from Old Norse skrækja, itself probably of imitative origin. Cognate to Swedish skrika (skrik), German schreien (Schrei), both with the same meaning, and Albanian grykë (throat).



shriek (plural shrieks)

  1. A sharp, shrill outcry or scream; a shrill wild cry such as is caused by sudden or extreme terror, pain, or the like.
    • Dryden
      Shrieks, clamours, murmurs, fill the frighted town.
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 5
      Sabor, the lioness, was a wise hunter. To one less wise the wild alarm of her fierce cry as she sprang would have seemed a foolish thing, for could she not more surely have fallen upon her victims had she but quietly leaped without that loud shriek?
  2. (UK) (slang) An exclamation mark.



shriek (third-person singular simple present shrieks, present participle shrieking, simple past and past participle shrieked or (obsolete) shright)

  1. To utter a loud, sharp, shrill sound or cry, as do some birds and beasts; to scream, as in a sudden fright, in horror or anguish.
    • Shakespeare
      It was the owl that shrieked.
    • Dryden
      At this she shrieked aloud; the mournful train / Echoed her grief.
  2. To utter sharply and shrilly; to utter in or with a shriek or shrieks.
    • Spenser
      The ghostly owl, shrieking his baleful note.
    • Moore
      She shrieked his name to the dark woods.