[free-sohn; French free-sawn]

noun, plural fris·sons [free-sohnz; French free-sawn] /friˈsõʊ̃z; French friˈsɔ̃/.

a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill: The movie offers the viewer the occasional frisson of seeing a character in mortal danger.

Origin of frisson

1770–80; < French: shiver, shudder, Old French friçons (plural) < Late Latin frictiōnem, accusative of frictiō shiver (taken as derivative of frīgēre to be cold), Latin: massage, friction Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for frisson

Contemporary Examples of frisson

  • You know, a novel comes not from a decision but a frisson, a sort of shiver that goes through you.

  • If there was a frisson of drama, it came when Gingrich spoke after Romney was projected to win Delaware.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Great Primary Pretense

    Howard Kurtz

    April 25, 2012

  • Further, united in positivity, the frisson within the judging panel has evaporated.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The American Idol Implosion

    Richard Rushfield

    April 12, 2011

  • The political risk of new books was replaced by the frisson of scandal.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Real Story of "O"

    Robert McCrum

    January 23, 2011

  • A frisson of breathless excitement rippled through the Twitter community last week as a mysterious new member made his debut.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Karl Rove Is Following Me

    Rachel Sklar

    January 16, 2009

Historical Examples of frisson

  • These are the tapestries that grip the heart, that cause a frisson of joy to the beholder.

    The Tapestry Book

    Helen Churchill Candee

  • No purely physical theory can interpret all the mystery of the frisson.

  • And the appetite that drove her to ask for more, that was the only sauce–an appetite that was a frisson.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle

  • Her nourishment was ever the latest “frisson,” to use her own word.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle

  • I must have experiences, pictures, that frisson, as the French say.

    The Song of Songs

    Hermann Sudermann

British Dictionary definitions for frisson



a shudder or shiver; thrill

Word Origin for frisson

C18 (but in common use only from C20): literally: shiver
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 frisson

1777, from French frisson, literally "shiver, thrill" (12c.), from Latin frigere "to be cold" (see frigid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper