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

  • n. A fluttering or tremulous sound, as that made by certain birds; a warble.
  • n. Music The rapid alternation of two tones either a whole or a half tone apart.
  • n. Music A vibrato.
  • n. Linguistics A rapid vibration of one speech organ against another, as of the tongue against the alveolar ridge in Spanish rr.
  • n. Linguistics A speech sound pronounced with such a vibration.
  • transitive v. To sound, sing, or play with a trill.
  • transitive v. To articulate (a sound) with a trill.
  • intransitive v. To produce or give forth a trill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rapid alternation between an indicated note and the one above it, in musical notation usually indicated with the letters tr written above the staff.
  • n. A type of consonantal sound that is produced by vibrations of the tongue against the place of articulation, for example, Spanish rr.
  • v. To create a trill sound.
  • v. To trickle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sound, of consonantal character, made with a rapid succession of partial or entire intermissions, by the vibration of some one part of the organs in the mouth -- tongue, uvula, epiglottis, or lip -- against another part.
  • n. The action of the organs in producing such sounds. d.
  • n. A shake or quaver of the voice in singing, or of the sound of an instrument, produced by the rapid alternation of two contiguous tones of the scale. See Shake.
  • intransitive v. To flow in a small stream, or in drops rapidly succeeding each other; to trickle.
  • intransitive v. To utter trills or a trill; to play or sing in tremulous vibrations of sound; to have a trembling sound; to quaver.
  • transitive v. To turn round; to twirl.
  • transitive v. To impart the quality of a trill to; to utter as, or with, a trill

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn round rapidly; twirl; whirl.
  • To roll to and fro; rock.
  • To throw; cast.
  • To pour out.
  • To roll.
  • To rock; swing to and fro; shake; quiver.
  • To roll down, as water; trickle.
  • To sound with tremulous vibrations.
  • To sing in a quavering manner; specifically, to execute a shake or trill.
  • To sing in a quavering or tremulous manner; pipe.
  • To pronounce with a quick vibration of the tongue; roll, as the sound of r.
  • n. A quavering, tremulous sound; a rapid, trembling series or succession of tones; a warbling.
  • n. In music, same as shake, 5; also, formerly, the effect now called the vibrato.
  • n. A consonant pronounced with a trilling sound, as r.

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

  • v. pronounce with a trill, of the phoneme `r'
  • n. the articulation of a consonant (especially the consonant `r') with a rapid flutter of the tongue against the palate or uvula
  • n. a note that alternates rapidly with another note a semitone above it
  • v. sing or play with trills, alternating with the half note above or below


Italian trillo, from trillare, to trill, probably ultimately of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English trillen. Compare Norwegian trille, Swedish trilla. (Wiktionary)



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

  • The spring green sparkled in the spring light. Tree toads were trilling.

    - William Steig, The Amazing Bone

    September 29, 2008

  • "The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun." Whitman, Song of Myself, 2

    January 4, 2008