Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

English difference between shout scream yell squeal

What is the difference between “shout,” “yell,” “scream,” and “squeal”?

Find out today so that you can start making your vocabulary more nuanced and interesting to have better conversations and connections in English.

Today we’ll start with a question from a listener:

Hi Lindsay and Michelle,

I’m Diana from Portugal, and I want to start off by thanking you two for this spectacular podcast you’ve created. I’ve been listening to All Ears English for four months now and I have to confess I got totally addicted to it from the very first. Your energetic voices always set me up in a positive mood for my day and, most importantly, your insights into both the language and the culture have been a huge help for me to become a more natural and easy-to-connect English speaker. You’re doing an amazing job girls 🙂

Today I have a question about the words shout, scream, squeal and yell. Even though they all have quite similar meanings, it seems to me there might be slight yet important differences in their usages. I’ve noticed that the word yell is commonly used by natives to describe someone that is speaking with a loud voice out of anger or annoyance, whereas the word shout seems to be a more neutral, less emotion-based description. Is that right? What about the words scream and squeal? Are they associated with some specific emotion or feeling? And could you give us a couple of 

suitable situations to throw them in? I would very much appreciate if you clear up my mind on this in some upcoming episode.

Thanks so much again for this super funny, inspiring and incredibly helpful show. And have a good one 🙂




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What these words mean:


  • Shout – This doesn’t always mean that you’re angry. Sometimes someone can be shouting in an inappropriate place, like on the subway you might say: “You’re shouting, be quiet!”
  • Scream – With this word you could be angry OR also you could be in a loud place “She had to scream over the music” or “The teacher screamed when she saw the mouse!” This could be a surprise as well.
  • Squeal (dictionary) – This means to make a long, high-pitched cry or noise.“The girls squealed with delight”(like at a concert) or it could mean that you gave information to the police or person in authority about what someone did. For example,”She feared they would victimize her for squealing on their pals”
  • Yell – This sounds more yell AT someone
    • Example:  Mom: You didn’t clean your room! I am so angry at you!” Kid: Stop yelling at me, mom!


What questions do you still have about these words?

Let us know in the comments below.

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