fris·​son | \ frē-ˈsōⁿ How to pronounce frisson (audio) \
plural frissons\ frē-​ˈsōⁿ(z) How to pronounce frisson (audio) \

Definition of frisson

: a brief moment of emotional excitement : shudder, thrill produce a genuine frisson of disquiet— Patricia Craig a frisson of surprise a frisson of delight

Frisson and Shiver

"I feel a shiver that's not from the cold as the band and the crowd go charging through the final notes.... That frisson, that exultant moment...." That's how writer Robert W. Stock characterized the culmination of a big piece at a concert in 1982. His use of the word shiver is apt given that frisson comes from the French word for "shiver." Frisson traces to Old French friçon, which in turn derives from frictio, Latin for "friction." What does friction—normally a heat generator—have to do with thrills and chills? Nothing, actually. The association came about because frictio (which derives from Latin fricare, meaning "to rub") was once mistakenly taken to be a derivative of frigēre, which means "to be cold."

Examples of frisson in a Sentence

those two are still caught up in the giddy frisson of a new romance
Recent Examples on the Web If what are meant to be the eerie parts of the story do not deliver much of a frisson, the more human interactions do create a nice glow. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 The light sparkled on the water, and the afternoon had a boozy, pleasure-cruise atmosphere, but some on board seemed to feel a frisson of danger from our proximity to the border. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2022 It’s not tragedy, just an obscene political frisson. Armond White, National Review, 25 Mar. 2022 There's no lack of frisson between Foy and Bettany, who bring equally compelling heat to Margaret and Ian's alternating periods of lustful connection and loathsome mutual abuse. Kristen Baldwin,, 22 Apr. 2022 According to British Vogue, the dresses, custom-made for the duchess, were created from fabric left over from previous McQueen collections, adding a frisson of sustainability to the shoot. New York Times, 10 Jan. 2022 Perhaps, this year there will be just a little more frisson from the game. Eric Fuller, Forbes, 31 Jan. 2022 There’s a frisson, but little other value to the encounter. Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2022 Church, or at least First Parish, was not the place where a person in Concord could find this kind of frisson. Sarah Blackwood, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of frisson

1777, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for frisson

French, shiver, from Old French friçon, from Late Latin friction-, frictio, from Latin, literally, friction (taken in Late Latin as derivative of frigēre to be cold)

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The first known use of frisson was in 1777

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Frisson.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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