1. A fluttering or tremulous sound, as that made by certain birds; a warble.
a. The rapid alternation of two tones either a whole or a half tone apart.
b. A vibrato.
a. A rapid vibration of one speech organ against another, as of the tongue against the alveolar ridge in Spanish rr.
b. A speech sound pronounced with such a vibration.
v. trilled, tril·ling, trills
1. To sound, sing, or play with a trill.
2. To articulate (a sound) with a trill.
To produce or give forth a trill.
[Italian trillo, from trillare, to trill, probably ultimately of imitative origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.