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 Being a state bordering Pakistan, Punjab is often caught in the crosshairs of the diplomatic, security, and religious frisson between the two countries. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "All about the Kartarpur Corridor, the new Sikh connection between India and Pakistan," 8 Nov. 2019 Even though the city has plenty of independent coffee shops and cafes and some local chains, the brand cachet of Starbucks brought with it a frisson of excitement and global modernity that some South Africans crave. Brian Browdie, Quartz Africa, "Starbucks has failed in South Africa so far but is set for a do over," 4 Nov. 2019 Ned also encounters the posh Constable Fitzpatrick (Hoult), who expresses his cultural disdain for the primitive surroundings quite openly, but whose coziness with Kelly in a local brothel packs a playful homoerotic frisson. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'True History of the Kelly Gang': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 The currency of autofiction is authenticity, both for the writer who has lost the confidence or desire to fabricate events, and for the reader, for whom at least some of the frisson of the book inheres in its truth quotient. Christine Smallwood, Harper's magazine, "Novel, Essay, Poem," 16 Sep. 2019 These messages from the past can cause a frisson when read by visitors today. National Geographic, "The 'Lion Fortress' of Sri Lanka was swallowed by the jungle," 3 Sep. 2019 The more strenuous the Soviet efforts to suppress a work, the greater its frisson of the forbidden. Sophie Pinkham, The New Republic, "Vasily Grossman’s Lost Epic," 27 Aug. 2019 But there’s just not enough frisson to that question to drive the movie forward. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette Is a Gripping Mess," 16 Aug. 2019 The Holy Bible had a huge impact on a generation of kids for whom reading came to be associated with a rock ’n’ roll frisson. Longreads, "Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible," 25 June 2019

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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The first known use of frisson was in 1777

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Cite this Entry

“Frisson.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce frisson (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frisson

somewhat formal : a sudden strong feeling or emotion

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