Etymology
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shriek (v.)

"to scream; screech; utter a sharp, shrill cry," from pain, fear, grief, also of laughter, a 16c. variant of scrycke, skriken (c. 1200), from Old Norse skrækja "to screech" (see screech), probably of imitative origin. Transitive sense is from 1590s. Related: Shrieked; shrieking. The noun is attested from 1580s, "a sharp, shrill outcry," from the verb.

A shriek is sharper, more sudden, and, when due to fear or pain, indicative of more terror or distress than a scream. Screech emphasizes the disagreeableness of the sharpness or shrillness, and its lack of dignity in a person. It is more distinctly figurative to speak of the shriek of a locomotive than to speak of its scream or screech. [Century Dictionary]

updated on September 05, 2022

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