Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A moment of intense excitement; a shudder: The story's ending arouses a frisson of terror.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sudden surge of excitement.
  • n. A shiver.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an almost pleasurable sensation of fright

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

French, from Old French fricons, pl. of fricon, a trembling, from Vulgar Latin *frīctiō, *frīctiōn-, from Latin frīgēre, to be cold.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French frisson.

Examples

  • I think you can have male friends but the frisson is always there.

    Friends With a Woman ?

  • But what gives the novel its considerable frisson is the intrusion of Peter's impossibly seductive, much younger brother-in-law.

    Michael Cunningham's "By Nightfall," reviewed by Ron Charles

  • It's the casual conversation of people who know one another well, charged with the certain frisson of two men who have lately spent more time in one another's company than they would normally wish.

    Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan: 'We're not the big buddies people think we are'

  • And I bet the death sentence can give a certain frisson to thrill-seeking girls.

    Top 10 Hot Girl - Nerdy Guy Movies » Scene-Stealers

  • Not knowing what to expect when you put on a new album delivers a certain frisson, but I think we can all recall times when the final result was a bit of a disappointment.

    Keith Urban. In a Turban « We Don't Count Your Own Visits To Your Blog

  • My only guess is that maybe the type of quasi-anonymous, quasi-engaged interaction enabled by remote video chat actually hits a psychological sweet spot of sorts: It’s intimate or proximate enough that you get the kind of visceral frisson from a hostile exchange, that fight-or-flight adrenal rush, that isn’t going to emerge in some Usenet debate on the relative merits of Windows, Linux, and OSX, however hairy the “holy war” gets.

    Oh, I’m Sorry! This Is Abuse.

  • I've been thinking about the tears of joy, that feeling of choking up, the chill up the back of the neck -- (called a frisson, by some) -- of sympathy and empathy for a few decades.

    Rob Kall: What Makes You Cry... Besides the Obama Inauguration?

  • I've been thinking about the tears of joy, that feeling of choking up, the chill up the back of the neck (called a frisson, by some,) of sympathy and empathy for a few decades.

    Printing: What Makes You Cry-- Besides the Obama Inauguration?

  • You ` re the sort of person that likes to be able to have some kind of frisson, some kind of friction.

    CNN Transcript Oct 19, 2009

  • For example, my ultimate 2005 moment of "frisson" was in Steven Spielberg's Munich; far away from his home and family, Eric Bana's Avner is in the midst of a phone call with his wife when he hears the voice of his young daughter for the first time, a barely decipherable, but simultaneously absolute "papa," and, like Avner, the tears were immediately pouring out of my ducts.

    Archive 2006-12-01

Comments

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  • Sounds like something you want to get.

    May 15, 2009

  • I don't know...this word always sounds too much like frizzle for me to take it very seriously.

    November 17, 2007

  • An emotional thrill. My favorite usage is "a frisson of horror," but others include:

    1777 Horace Walpole, Letters, 8 Oct. (1904) X. 130: "I tore open the sacred box with...little reverence... No holy frisson, no involuntary tear warned me."

    1920 "Public Opinion" 24 Sept. 290/1: "There had been a frisson of horror because the enemy was over the Marne."

    February 23, 2007