from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To utter a long loud piercing cry, as from pain or fear.
  • intransitive verb To make a loud piercing sound.
  • intransitive verb To speak or write in an excited or fearful manner.
  • intransitive verb To have or produce a startling effect.
  • intransitive verb To utter or say in a screaming voice or in an excited or fearful manner.
  • noun A long, loud, piercing cry or sound.
  • noun Informal One that is hilariously or ridiculously funny.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A sharp, piercing sound or cry, as one uttered in fright, pain, etc.
  • noun A sharp, harsh sound.
  • noun Synonyms Scream, Shriek, Screech. 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.
  • To cry out with shrill voice; give vent or utterance to a sharp or piercing outcry; utter shrill cries, as in fright or extreme pain, delight, etc.
  • To give out a shrill sound: as, the railway whistle screamed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To cry out with a shrill voice; to utter a sudden, sharp outcry, or shrill, loud cry, as in fright or extreme pain; to shriek; to screech.
  • noun A sharp, shrill cry, uttered suddenly, as in terror or in pain; a shriek; a screech.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A loud, emphatic, exclamation of extreme emotion, usually horror, fear, excitement et cetera. Can be the exclamation of a word, but is usually a sustained, high-pitched vowel sound, particularly /æ/ or /i/, in any case, the loudest and most emphatic sound a human can make tends to be a scream. The term is not generally applied to sounds made by non-humans.
  • noun informal An entertainingly outrageous person.
  • noun music A form of singing associated with the metal and screamo styles of music. It is a loud, rough, distorted version of the voice; rather than the normal voice of the singer.
  • noun informal Used as an intensifier
  • verb To make the sound of a scream.
  • verb To move quickly; to race.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a high-pitched noise resembling a human cry
  • noun a joke that seems extremely funny
  • verb utter or declare in a very loud voice
  • verb make a loud, piercing sound
  • verb utter a sudden loud cry
  • noun sharp piercing cry


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English screamen, possibly of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse scræma.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

shreamen (compare Old Norwegian skræma). related to shriek, skrike. cognate with West Frisian skrieme (to weep) German schreien (Schrei)


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word scream.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Uncut.

    February 3, 2010