4

Does the high-pitched sound of nails scratching a chalkboard have a name?

I thought of "squeaking" or "screeching" but I don't think either of them correctly describes it.

2
  • 2
    Sheer torture! Just kidding, I have no idea what it's called. Screeching is about the best I could come up with but I'm not totally happy with it either.
    – Lynn
    Dec 17 '11 at 22:42
  • Screeching isn't a name, but rather a description of the sound.
    – Oldcat
    Oct 22 '14 at 19:23
4

Writers tend to use the phrase nails on a chalkboard to describe the sound:

“The music of veteran pop singer Cliff Richard apparently is like nails on a chalkboard to hooligans.” [CNN]

Apparently, nobody has been able to capture the sound's singular power to excruciate in an onomatopoeia.

5
  • 3
    If the word were onomatopoeic, it would hardly be used, would it?
    – JeffSahol
    Dec 18 '11 at 4:11
  • 1
    @JeffSahol I'd have a word to describe my neighbor's voice...
    – Gnawme
    Dec 18 '11 at 4:37
  • Hey what would an onomatopoeic word for silence sound like?
    – JeffSahol
    Dec 18 '11 at 18:03
  • I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lovely poetic term like tintinnabulation or susurrus.
    – Gnawme
    Dec 18 '11 at 21:18
  • I've always heard "fingernails on a blackboard".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 25 '15 at 20:29
2

I would call it chalkboard screech.

2

Since there really isn't just one word that captures the true essence of the sound, how about slapping an adjective on the front? E.g. shrill screech.

2

I would suggest the onomatopoeia "scree".

The sound this describes is common in many videogames and movies with pterosaur-like animals; it always reminded me (unpleasantly) of nails on a chalkboard.

Her nails on the chalkboard made a shrill "SCREEEEEE" that sent shivers down my spine.

A somewhat-related video for reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5hrMdtOmrU&feature=related (The sound I'm describing can be heard starting at 0:10).

0
1

I like the sound of 'screak', because of that 'k'. The Oxford English Dictionary's examples don't mention blackboards, but do mention violins.

0

Chill-sending screech.

I would say "chill-sending screech" because of the way nails on a chalkboard send chills down one's back.

0

Maybe some kind of grating screech? Or try and describe the effects of the sound- perhaps by comparing it to the scraping of fingernails down the insides of your ears???

-1

Chill-sending screech.

I would describe the sound nails make running against a chalkboard as a "chill-sending screech" because, as we all know, the sound sends chills down your back.

Ex: The teacher made a chill-sending noise when she slid her nails against the chalkboard.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.