mid-15c., from scream (v.).
And (as they say) lamentings heard i' th' Ayre; Strange Schreemes of Death. ["Macbeth," II.iii.61]
Shakespeare's spelling probably reflects "sk-" as spelled in words from Latin (such as school); he also has schreene for screen. Slang meaning "something that evokes a cry of laughter" is 1888; screamer in this sense is from 1831.
late 12c., scræmen, of uncertain origin, similar to words in Scandinavian, Dutch, German, and Flemish (such as Old Norse skræma "to terrify, scare," Swedish scrana "to scream," Dutch schreijen "cry aloud, shriek," Old High German scrian, German schreien "to cry"). Related: Screamed; screaming. Screaming meemies is World War I army slang, originally a soldiers' name for a type of German artillery shell that made a loud noise in flight (from French woman's name Mimi), extended to the battle fatigue caused by long exposure to enemy fire.
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