- A sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill.
“I felt a giddy frisson when I got news of my big promotion.”
“When the orchestra reached the crescendo, many in the audience experienced a frisson.”
“My partner hates haunted houses, but I live for that frisson of fear and excitement on Halloween.”
French, late 18th century
Why this word?
Everyone has experienced a frisson — you might have referred to it as “getting the chills” or “having goosebumps.” But there’s a single word for this tangible wave of excitement or fear, and that’s “frisson.” It’s a direct loanword from French, where the word means “a shiver or thrill.” The word is often associated with strong emotions, such as anxiety, fear, and romantic attraction, but a powerful piece of art or a sentimental song could elicit tears and a frisson as well.
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