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From Middle English scremen, scræmen, probably from a fusion of Middle Dutch scremen (to yell; shout) and Old Norse skræma (to terrify; scare); compare Dutch schremen (to shout; yell; cry), Swedish skrämma (to spook; frighten), Danish skræmme (to scare), West Frisian skrieme (to weep). Compare also Swedish skräna (to yell; shout; howl), Dutch schreien (to cry; weep), German schreien (to scream). Related to shriek, skrike.



scream (plural screams)

  1. A loud, emphatic, exclamation of extreme emotion, especially horror, fear, excitement, or anger; it may comprise a word or a sustained, high-pitched vowel sound.
  2. A loud vocalisation of many animals, especially in response to pain or fear.
    • 1912, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World[1]:
      I am tender-hearted by nature, and have found my eyes moist many a time over the scream of a wounded hare.
  3. (music) A form of singing associated with the metal and screamo styles of music. It is a loud, rough, distorted version of the voice; rather than the normal voice of the singer.
  4. (informal) Used as an intensifier.
    We had a real scream of a time at the beach.
    • 1994 June 28, “Kingdom of the faithful: Serena Mackesy visits Jordan”, in Independent:
      Amman, though not exactly your world cultural centre, is a scream of a city; all the roads have different names from their official ones, so that maps are useless
  5. (printers' slang) An exclamation mark.



scream (third-person singular simple present screams, present participle screaming, simple past and past participle screamed or (nonstandard) screamt)

  1. (intransitive, also figuratively) To cry out with a shrill voice; to utter a sudden, shout outcry, or shrill, loud cry, as in fright or extreme pain; to screech, to shriek.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:shout
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene ii]:
      I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 303:
      When we crossed the river, I heard a terrible cry, and I blessed the child again, the others said it was only the loon, which screamed for bad weather." "Yes, that would have been sufficient, if there was nothing else but the loon," said Gubjor; "when it screams at a new-born babe, that child is bewitched."
    • 2006, The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, “Harley Got Devoured by the Undead”, in An Even Scarier Solstice:
      Well, I waited and I waited / For some word from down below / And then ol' Harley started screaming / "Run, my God, now, Carter, go man go!"
    • 2016 October 2, Nick Cohen, “Liberal Guilt Won't Fight Nationalism”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 195, number 17 (30 September – 6 October 2016), London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0959-3608, OCLC 1060180436, page 21, column 3:
      Meanwhile, the authoritarianism, which has turned left-liberalism into a movement for sneaks and prudes, was always going to play into the hands of the right. Free citizens have stopped listening to those who respond to the challenge of argument by screaming for the police to arrest the politically incorrect or for universities to ban speakers who depart from leftish orthodoxy.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively)
    1. To move quickly; to race.
      Synonyms: speed, zoom; see also Thesaurus:move quickly, Thesaurus:rush
      He almost hit a pole, the way he came screaming down the hill.
    2. (informal) To be very indicative of; clearly having the characteristics of.
      Do you know what screams “I’m obnoxious”? People who feel the need to comment on every little thing they notice.