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

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 The scene carries a frisson of novelty, providing a feminist, forward-thinking corrective to imagery more often cast as monolithically male. Ann Hornaday, Twin Cities, "Female film pioneer gets her due in enlightening documentary ‘Be Natural’," 13 June 2019 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 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 So when the president agreed to attend last Saturday’s Gridiron and deliver remarks, a frisson of nervous anticipation shot through the group. Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump and press corps put feuding aside – for a night," 5 Mar. 2018 That frisson of vulnerability is shared by the duo's daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose work in both film and music is synonymous with raw electricity. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Jane Birkin on Life and Love with Serge Gainsbourg—and Why Puffy Eyes are Beautiful," 1 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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Last Updated

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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