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

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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

Mary Louise, who injects some welcome frisson into the women’s dynamics, also inadvertently vocalizes the tensions that undergirded Celeste and Perry’s outwardly perfect relationship. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 Although multiple generations of post-’60s artists live and work unconsciously in Andy’s world, many of them are oblivious to that frisson. Peter Plagens, WSJ, "‘Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again’ Review: Pop Art’s Tragic Prince," 7 Nov. 2018 Do composers try to cause frisson in the film scores you research? Zoë Madonna,, "In new book, ‘Star Wars’ leitmotif-collecting Tufts professor explores wonder in film music," 21 June 2018 For those who crave the ladylike feel of a dress but long for the frisson of something new, fear not. Natasha Silva-jelly, Harper's BAZAAR, "Modern Eveningwear," 4 Nov. 2014 Developers see the marijuana industry as an increasingly profitable arena for innovation and business—and coworking spaces as key to connecting players in an industry that, for some, has the frisson of the Wild West. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Cannabis, coworking, and the marijuana-industry land rush," 24 July 2018 The Bowery still had this frisson of being a scary place. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "It’s an It Girl! The Birth of ‘Sex and the City’," 6 June 2018 Or opt for the relative complexities of a Green Pie that conjures a garden of earthy delight, a peppery herbal kick of arugula pesto, the anise lilt of fresh basil and a counterpoint frisson of fried sage leaves. Beth Segal,, "Il Rione Pizzeria: A passion for pizza in Gordon Square," 11 May 2018 Without him, the gathering will likely lose a frisson of drama. Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, "At a ‘surreal’ Summit of the Americas, corruption scandals aplenty — but no Trump," 12 Apr. 2018

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.

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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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frit fly

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for frisson

The first known use of frisson was in 1777

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English Language Learners Definition of frisson

somewhat formal : a sudden strong feeling or emotion

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