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verb (used without object)
  1. to dance, leap, skip, or gambol; frolic: The dogs and children frisked about on the lawn.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to search (a person) for concealed weapons, contraband goods, etc., by feeling the person's clothing: The police frisked both of the suspects.
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  1. a leap, skip, or caper.
  2. a frolic or gambol.
  3. the act of frisking a person.
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Origin of frisk

1425–75; late Middle English, as adj. < Middle French frisque, perhaps a spelling variant (with mute s) of fri(c)que lively, smart < Germanic (compare Middle Dutch vrec, Old High German freh avaricious, Middle High German vrech brave, German frech insolent); or < Middle French (Flanders) frisque < Middle Dutch frisc fresh
Related formsfrisk·er, nounfrisk·ing·ly, adverbun·frisk·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for frisk


  1. (intr) to leap, move about, or act in a playful manner; frolic
  2. (tr) (esp of animals) to whisk or wave brisklythe dog frisked its tail
  3. (tr)
    1. to search (someone) by feeling for concealed weapons, etc
    2. to rob by searching in this way
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  1. a playful antic or movement; frolic
  2. the act or an instance of frisking a person
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Derived Formsfrisker, nounfriskingly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: from Old French frisque, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German frisc lively, fresh
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for frisk


1510s, "to dance, frolic," from Middle English frisk "lively" (mid-15c.), from Middle French frisque "lively, brisk," from Old French frisque "fresh, new; merry, animated" (13c.), possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Middle Dutch vrisch "fresh," Old High German frisc "lively;" see fresh (adj.1)). Sense of "pat down in a search" first recorded 1781. Related: Frisked; frisking. As a noun from 1520s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper