Sometimes when you are going up an elevator, you kind of hear this sound as if the cables that are lifting the elevator are having some difficulties. Like the sound that a car makes when it abruptly stops.

What's a word to refer to that sound?

All I could think of was something like "a grinding sound came from above."

Any other suggestions?

  • Grind is good. A twanging sound comes to mind
    – mplungjan
    Sep 11, 2013 at 14:59
  • I think this is POB, since it all depends on exactly what kind of "difficulties" the elevator is having. Sep 11, 2013 at 15:06
  • I think a good-word does not exist here because the auctual phenomenon is too wrapped-up in technical explanation of how that noise is produced. What everyone knows is that a noisy elevator is a dangerous elevator. Sep 11, 2013 at 15:16
  • And once again, an upvote, a star, and a close.
    – janoChen
    Sep 11, 2013 at 16:13

4 Answers 4


I suggest screeching:

: a high shrill piercing cry usually expressing pain or terror

  • beat me to the punch :)
    – Doga
    Sep 11, 2013 at 15:03
  • @cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 I think that's the word I was looking for. Thanks! By the way (麵包 = bread 忍者 = ninja. Where is the corn :D)?
    – janoChen
    Sep 11, 2013 at 15:53
  • @janoChen I couldn't find the character for corn! :D How about 玉米麵包忍者? Sep 11, 2013 at 16:08
  • 1
    @cornbreadninja麵包忍者 It's 玉米麵包. I happen to speak Chinese. I've never seen that kind of bread though, ha.
    – janoChen
    Sep 11, 2013 at 16:11
  • "Squeal" could be similarly used. Sep 11, 2013 at 18:53

I'd use graunch, which is rather onomatopoeic. And would you believe it, it's in the dictionary, even though my spell-checker doesn't like it.

graunch verb
[no object]
make a crunching or grinding noise:
the wheels graunched against a stone wall


Onomatopoeias are very subjective, and depend entirely on the sound, to say nothing of the different interpretations in different languages for the same sound. So bear in mind that any answer given is going to be subjective to one's own experience.

You might get a "creaking" noise, if the elevator is sticking and the metal parts are trying, but failing, to move against one another. Or if the metal elevator is straining against the cables, or if the wire is being stretched.

"Creaking" works especially well, since it includes both the squeaking sound one might hear from old, rusty, unoiled cables, as well as the grating noise one would hear from the metal parts pushing and grinding against one another. Even moreso, since it also describes an object that is moving whilst making this sound (A creaking elevator could mean that it is making this sound while moving, both implying the sound and the difficulty with which it moves).


Screech is the word you seem to be referring to when a car stops abruptly ( screech to a halt) which could also apply to the elevator cables under some circumstances I suppose.

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