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Inherited from Middle English squelen, probably from Old Norse skvala (to squeal, bawl), from Proto-Germanic *skwel- (to chatter, babble, scream), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *skel-, from *kelh₁- (to ring, resound, cry). Compare Old Norse skval (a squeal, noun), Swedish skvallra (to babble, chatter, tell on).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /skwiːl/ 
  • (US) IPA(key): /skwil/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːl


squeal (plural squeals)

  1. A high-pitched sound, such as the scream of a child or a female person, or noisy worn-down brake pads.
  2. The cry of a pig.



squeal (third-person singular simple present squeals, present participle squealing, simple past and past participle squealed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To scream with a shrill, prolonged sound.
    I made my girlfriend squeal with delight last night.
  2. (of an object) To make a squealing noise.
    The brakes squeal terribly.
    • 2022 November 30, Paul Bigland, “Destination Oban: a Sunday in Scotland”, in RAIL, number 971, page 75:
      We continue through suburban Newcastle along the edge of the Tyne, before squealing around the tight curves onto the magnificent High Level bridge, which affords glorious views across Newcastle and along the river before arriving at journey's end.
  3. (intransitive, slang) To give sensitive information about someone to a third party; to rat on someone.


Derived terms[edit]