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

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A quavering, tremulous sound; a rapid, trembling series or succession of tones; a warbling.
  • noun In music, same as shake, 5; also, formerly, the effect now called the vibrato.
  • noun A consonant pronounced with a trilling sound, as r.

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

  • intransitive verb To flow in a small stream, or in drops rapidly succeeding each other; to trickle.
  • transitive verb To impart the quality of a trill to; to utter as, or with, a trill
  • intransitive verb To utter trills or a trill; to play or sing in tremulous vibrations of sound; to have a trembling sound; to quaver.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The action of the organs in producing such sounds. d.
  • noun (Mus.) 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.
  • transitive verb obsolete To turn round; to twirl.

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

  • noun music 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.
  • noun phonetics A type of consonantal sound that is produced by vibrations of the tongue against the place of articulation, for example, Spanish rr.
  • verb intransitive To create a trill sound.
  • verb intransitive To trickle.

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

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


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

[Italian trillo, from trillare, to trill, probably ultimately of imitative origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English trillen. Compare Norwegian trille, Swedish trilla.


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  • Most painful to me, however, is that the trill, which is so important to the understanding of the sonata's main theme, is to be played fortissimo, while elsewhere in the movement remaining remote and mysterious.

    'Schubert's Last Sonatas': An Exchange Frisch, Walter 1989

  • The trill is the most difficult of all vocal exercises.

    Vocal Mastery Talks with Master Singers and Teachers Harriette Brower 1898

  • There still remains the trill, which is best practised in the beginning as follows: --

    How to Sing [Meine Gesangskunst] Lilli Lehmann 1888

  • Dear Miss Betham, -- That accursed word trill has vexed me excessively.

    The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 5 The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb Mary Lamb 1805

  • [The trill is a voiced sound but I found that trying it first voiced lowered the point of articulation to the glottis or pharynx.]

    Irish Blogs Corcaighist 2010

  • Bun-B establishes himself as a contemporary authority on sincerity and authenticity ( "trill") on the early track "Put It Down," where he raps, "When it comes to being trill I'm a litmus test."

    Alec Gewirtz: From Trilling to Trill Alec Gewirtz 2010

  • In case you didn't know, the word "trill" has a new primary meaning.

    Alec Gewirtz: From Trilling to Trill Alec Gewirtz 2010

  • Watch out for the headline that Wales bans 'trill' and Cardiff market stole holders go bust.

    Johnny Stars and Bird Flu Arrives Glyn Davies 2007

  • I would be the one that sat with the other kids while DH got on the "trill" rides.

    Oof. 2005

  • To expect to maintain this exaltation with our present nature is like requiring of the athlete that he never relax his muscles, or of the prima donna that she never cease the exquisite trill which is but the momentary proof of what her present organization is capable.

    A Knight of the Nineteenth Century Edward Payson Roe 1863


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  • "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

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

    - William Steig, The Amazing Bone

    September 29, 2008

  • Trill, a portmanteau of true and real.

    March 8, 2020