7

Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, _____ing in my ears.

Which word can best fit the blank in the sentence? Ringing or echoing fit, but seem too lackluster and mediocre to me.

Definition:

A word that refers to a repeating shrill sound being vibrated in someone's ears and alerting the senses because of its shrillness and the abruptness of its coming and ending.

Context:

The narrator is using a PC. The clicking of the mouse is the 'sound' in question. She is getting sleepy and the only thing that seems to keep her awake is the constant clicking sound. No, the sound isn't ear-piercingly loud and shrill. Nor is it very pleasant to the ears. What I seek to describe is the effect the sound produces, not the sound itself.

Preferences:

I'm looking for a word that's (preferably) short, simple and powerful. As I said earlier — what I seek to describe is the effect the sound produces, not the sound itself. If you choose a word that needs the sentence to be reworded a bit in order to fit, don't hesitate to share it. I won't mind, as long as the word's appropriate and the meaning isn't drastically changed.

10 Answers 10

8

Possible answers include

jarring - Incongruous in a striking or shocking way; clashing.

ODO

or

grating - Sounding harsh and unpleasant.

ODO

  • +1 Like them. Great! But the sentence needs some rewording for any of the options to fit. – Soha Farhin Pine Jun 16 '17 at 21:38
  • 1
    @SohaFarhinPine Thank you for the up vote. "Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, grating in my ears." I think that works as is. I also thought of echoing which works for the "... and went ..." part but not so much for the "... came ..." part. :-) – MikeJRamsey56 Jun 16 '17 at 21:45
8

Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, trilling in my ears.

From Oxford:

trill

A quavering or vibratory sound, especially a rapid alternation of sung or played notes.

‘the caged bird launched into a piercing trill’

Also from Oxford:

‘But on the sunlit walls, suddenly trilling like car alarms, small brightly coloured birds were hung in cages outside shops.’

  • The word refers to the distinct kind of sound itself, not the effect the sound produces. But thanks anyway. – Soha Farhin Pine Jun 16 '17 at 18:02
  • 1
    Are you looking for a word that "refers to the distinct kind of sound itself" or a word describing "the effect the sound produces"? In your comment, "The word" is ambigious; it's not clear whether you're referring to the word you're looking for or the word that was suggested. In either case, I would say that if ringing fits, trilling would as well. – Roger Sinasohn Jun 16 '17 at 18:29
  • 1
    Trilling doesn't have any unpleasant connotations. If anything I'd say it suggests happiness and beautiful bird song more so than a "shrill sound." Personally I think "grating" is the best choice, it's certainly the most common. – theonlygusti Jun 17 '17 at 19:26
5

Some sonic-effect terms for what you are seeking are:

  • resounding, which has a neutral or vaguely positive connotation;
  • tintinnabulating, but that's high-falutin' and may not be the right register;
  • clamoring, which emphasizes the insistence of the sound;
  • chiming, tolling, or pealing, all relating to the sound of bells;
4

I'd say shriek:

(of something inanimate) make a high-pitched screeching sound.

Be very obvious or strikingly discordant.

Hence, Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, shrieking in my ears.

Note that "click, click" doesn't really fit with your specification of being alarmingly shrill; "click" is usually much calmer and more neutral than that. If you're talking about a siren/alarm/klaxon, or even just loud natural noises (e.g. in the jungle), I'd go for shrieking or perhaps clamoring, which reminds me of bells but also has specific connotations of trying to get someone's attention.

4

My solution: dissonating.

Reason: The initial deduction for the requirements for a befitting word, were one of two of the following :

  • The nature of the sound : discomfort.
  • The effect of the sound : preventing the narrator from falling asleep.

Dissonance is a phenomena where very close but not equal frequencies cause a unique form 'trilling' ( a word mentioned in one of the answers ). But it isn't just any trilling. It is uniquely harsh. Dissonance is used in all kinds of music from orchestral to metal to express unrest.

I, thus believe :

Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, dissonating in my ears.

Fun fact : The word dissonance comes from the Latin dissonantia, meaning 'disagreement of sound'.

3

Perhaps buzzing would work?

Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, buzzing in my ears.

Per the Oxford Dictionaries:

buzz

NOUN

  1. A low, continuous humming or murmuring sound, made by or similar to that made by an insect.
    ‘the buzz of the bees’
    ‘a buzz of conversation’

Edit: Based on the updated question and other comments, here are some more suggestions:

reverberate

VERB

  1. [no object, usually with adverbial] (of a loud noise) be repeated several times as an echo.
    ‘her deep booming laugh reverberated around the room’

    1.1 (of a place) appear to vibrate because of a loud noise.
    ‘the hall reverberated with laughter’

ripple

VERB

[NO OBJECT]

  1. (of water) form or flow with a series of small waves on the surface.
    ‘the Mediterranean rippled and sparkled’
    ‘the rippling waters’

    1.1 [with object] Cause (the surface of water) to form small waves.
    ‘a cool wind rippled the surface of the estuary’

    1.2 [no object] Move in a way resembling a series of small waves.
    ‘fields of grain rippling in the wind’

    1.3 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (of a sound or feeling) spread through a person, group, or place.
    ‘applause rippled around the tables’

pulsate

VERB

[NO OBJECT]

  1. Expand and contract with strong regular movements.
    ‘blood vessels throb and pulsate’

    1.1 (often as adjective pulsating) Produce a regular throbbing sensation or sound.
    ‘dance the night away in one of the pulsating discos’

    1.2 (usually as adjective pulsating) Be very exciting.
    ‘victory in a pulsating semi-final’

pulse

VERB

  1. [no object] Throb rhythmically; pulsate.
    ‘a knot of muscles at the side of his jaw pulsed’

drone

VERB

[NO OBJECT]

  1. Make a continuous low humming sound.
    ‘in the far distance a machine droned’

thrum

VERB

[NO OBJECT] 1. Make a continuous rhythmic humming sound.
‘the boat's huge engines thrummed in his ears’

  • I've updated the question to add more context. – Soha Farhin Pine Jun 16 '17 at 18:34
  • The thing is, you have two very good suggestions while the others fit less well. Supplying a thesaurus-like list can backfire. – Mari-Lou A Jun 17 '17 at 6:53
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    @SohaFarhinPine - A sound droning on takes the definition of being tedious and monotonous. – Mazura Jun 17 '17 at 7:55
2

I'd like to add that "shrill" here doesn't seem to match. Shrill tends to describe longer, higher-pitched noises. Looking at the other answers, it seems that there may not be a precisely appropriate word in English. Here's my revision!

Click, click. The rapid sound constantly came and went, each tap a soft stab at the senses.

  • 2
    I agree shrill is used for more longer sounds, but mouse clicks can be high-pitched and do have a distinct 'shrillness'. I like your revision more than the original, though. As much as I would like to accept your answer, it would be unfair because this is not really an answer. It's more like a comment actually. – Soha Farhin Pine Jun 16 '17 at 21:22
1

Ring [ring]/ verb (used without object)

  1. to sound loudly; be loud or resonant; resound (often followed by out):

  2. (of the ears) to have the sensation of a continued humming sound.

0

Purr

a low vibrating sound typical of a contented cat


Whir

(of something rapidly rotating or moving to and fro) make a low, continuous, regular sound.


Bombinate

make a buzzing sound

-3

Click, click. The rapid shrill sound constantly came and went, tickling in my ears.

Or

... tickling my ears

Tickling is the act of touching a part of a body in a way that causes involuntary twitching movements or laughter.

protected by tchrist Jul 29 '17 at 22:53

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