\ˈfrisk \
frisked; frisking; frisks

Definition of frisk 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to leap, skip, or dance in a lively or playful way : gambol

transitive verb

: to search (a person) for something (such as a concealed weapon) by running the hand rapidly over the clothing and through the pockets



Definition of frisk (Entry 2 of 2)

1a archaic : caper

b : gambol, romp

c : diversion

2 : an act of frisking

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Other Words from frisk


frisker noun

Examples of frisk in a Sentence


carefree kids laughing and frisking about in their backyard


fondly remembers the summer before he started college as one long frisk

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The elevator opens and more cops come out, approaching Johnson and frisking him. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "4 Arizona Officers on Paid Leave After Video Shows Them Brutally Pummeling Man Who Was on His Cellphone," 6 June 2018 The Coast Guard rescued the group — then immediately detained and frisked Sánchez and his friends and reported them to ICE. Kavitha Surana,, "How immigration officers can get away with racial profiling," 8 June 2018 Every year, more than 75 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked by the New York City Police Department were black or Latino. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Unprotected, Underserved: The (False) Criminalization of Black America," 25 June 2018 Many were indignant but not surprised that this had happened in Philadelphia, where police have been criticized for disproportionately stopping and frisking black residents. NBC News, "As Starbucks closes for bias training, black-owned coffee shops open their doors wider," 29 May 2018 The ministry accused Turkey of subjecting Naeh to a particularly severe security screening at the airport in Istanbul and inviting local Turkish media to capture the humiliation of him being frisked and forced to remove his shoes and jacket. Aron Heller, Fox News, "Israel-Turkey spat escalates over Gaza violence," 17 May 2018 Officers said they were particularly upset by the way Cook and his command staff treated Brandon Smith, a street-level officer who stopped, handcuffed and frisked a black man who turned out to be the chief’s brother. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "Shake-up exposes rift in Alexandria police department over discipline," 14 May 2018 Embellished Narratives In recent years, the number of times police stopped and frisked pedestrians has declined precipitously. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, "‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem," 18 Mar. 2018 Long lines of voters gathered in Bogota outside polling centers on an overcast day and police frisked people in at least one site — a legacy perhaps of when voting centers were targeted by leftist rebels who considered the political system a sham. Christine Armario And Joshua Goodman,, "Conservative tops Colombia presidential vote but runoff needed," 28 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If any of the officers are found liable, another trial will be scheduled, one that could represent the biggest challenge to New York policing practices since stop-and-frisk. Alan Feuer And Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, "The Arrest Was a Bust. The Officers Got Overtime Anyway.," 19 Feb. 2018 Flynn denied that his department practiced stop-and-frisk and defended high-volume traffic stops as effective in reducing nonfatal shootings, robberies and car thefts. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "City of Milwaukee aims to cap consultant fees for stop-and-frisk lawsuit at $1.5 million," 2 July 2018 Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the Terry v. Ohio Supreme Court decision that legalized the practice of stop-and-frisk. Aubrey Nagle,, "How local towns are changing, Trump's war of words, Philly celebrates Pride | Morning Newsletter," 11 June 2018 Racial profiling, disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates, and biased apprehension tactics such as stop-and-frisk work to make black immigrants especially vulnerable to draconian immigration enforcement tactics. Shamira Ibrahim, Daily Intelligencer, "Patricia Okoumou and the Threat to Black Immigrants," 13 July 2018 Stop-and-frisk became a key feature of the overall strategy to reduce crime. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "What London Can Learn From New York About Crime," 3 Apr. 2018 Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has signed off on a $3.4 million settlement with the ACLU of Wisconsin over police stop-and-frisk practices after the Common Council approved it earlier this week. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signs off on $3.4 million settlement in ACLU stop-and-frisk lawsuit," 13 July 2018 His controversial stop-and-frisk police policies alienated many black and Hispanic voters in New York, and the issue would surely come back to haunt him in a primary. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Report: Michael Bloomberg Is, Once Again,Thinking of Running for President," 26 June 2018 The policy resulted in an increase in arrests for smaller offenses like vandalism, prostitution, loitering, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication—and in the proliferation of stop and frisk. Lucy Nicholson, Marie Claire, "The Number of Women in Jail Is Up 1,260%—What Are They Doing Wrong?," 17 Aug. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frisk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of frisk


1519, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1525, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for frisk


obsolete frisk lively

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Dictionary Entries near frisk


Frisian Islands






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Time Traveler for frisk

The first known use of frisk was in 1519

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English Language Learners Definition of frisk

: to pass your hands over (someone) to search for something that may be hidden in clothing


\ˈfrisk \
frisked; frisking

Kids Definition of frisk

1 : to move around in a lively or playful way

2 : to search a person quickly for something that may be hidden

Legal Definition of frisk 

: to run the hand rapidly over the outer clothing of (a suspect) for the purpose of finding concealed weapons — compare search

Note: The purpose of frisking a suspect is to insure the safety of an officer making an investigation against concealed weapons, not to uncover evidence. The officer must be justified in his or her encounter of the suspect and must have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed. The scope of the frisk must be limited to the discovery of weapons.

Other Words from frisk

frisk noun

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Comments on frisk

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lying above or upon

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