A shrill sound is high pitched and sharp, like the squeak of the mouse in your cupboard or the sound of your “eek” when you hear it.

Closer to a shriek than a trill, a shrill tone is one that might make you cover your ears, usually because the tone is so high and sharp. A high pitched voice, a classroom of excited first graders, or the sound of chalk scraping the board can all be shrill, as can a color or light that looks as sharp and intense as a shrill tone sounds.

Definitions of shrill
  1. adjective

    having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones

    shrill whistle”
    shrill gaiety”
    piercing, sharp

    high, high-pitched

    used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency
  2. adjective

    being sharply insistent on being heard

    shrill criticism”


    requiring attention or action
  3. adjective

    of colors that are bright and gaudy

    shrill turquoise”

    colorful, colourful

    having striking color
  4. verb

    utter a shrill cry

    pipe, pipe up, shriek
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    caterwaul, yowl

    utter shrieks, as of cats
    type of:

    call, cry, holler, hollo, scream, shout, shout out, squall, yell

    utter a sudden loud cry

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