The original German title given to the work by Munch was Der Schrei der Natur (The Scream of Nature). The Norwegian word skrik is usually translated as scream, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting has been called The Cry.
In a page in his diary headed Nice 22.01.1892, Munch described his inspiration for the image thus:
“ I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature