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From obsolete shrick (1567), shreke, variants of earier screak, skricke (bef. 1500), from Middle English scrycke, from a Scandinavian language (compare Swedish skrika, Icelandic skríkja), from Proto-Germanic *skrīkijaną, *skrik- (compare English screech). More at screech.


  • IPA(key): /ʃɹiːk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːk


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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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. (Britain, slang) An exclamation mark.



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

  1. (intransitive) 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.
  2. (transitive) To utter sharply and shrilly; to utter in or with a shriek or shrieks.
    • (Can we date this quote by Edmund Spenser and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The ghostly owl, shrieking his baleful note.
    • (Can we date this quote by Moore and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      She shrieked his name to the dark woods.