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

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 Adding to the frisson is the fact that arguably the best soccer player on the planet right now is Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, who so far has scored 40 goals in all competitions this season, but who at this time last year was playing for . . . Andrew Caffrey,, "A high-stakes European soccer match, made in Boston," 23 Apr. 2018 Looking for just the smallest frisson of spice, or none at all? Beth Segal,, "Szechuan Gourmet: Hot spot for hot pot and much more in Asiatown (photos)," 20 Apr. 2018 There aren’t many characters besides Chloé and the twins, which adds to the frisson late in the movie when the great Jacqueline Bisset makes her entrance. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: ‘Double Lover’ Is a Knotty Delight of a Thriller," 13 Feb. 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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Statistics for frisson

Last Updated

23 Mar 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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Comments on frisson

What made you want to look up frisson? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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