Word of the Day


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a sudden strong feeling of excitement, fear, or pleasure

Origin and usage

The word frisson comes from the Latin word ‘frigere’ meaning ‘to be cold’. Its use to describe an intense emotional feeling comes more closely from the French word ‘frisson’, which means ‘fever; thrill’. In English, frisson was first used around 1777, although it did not become widely used until a century later.


The word frisson describes a sudden, intense emotional response to something. The most popular causes of frissons are excitement, pleasure or fear.

According to scientific research, one of the most common triggers of frissons is listening to music. Certain songs have the power to induce a frisson in many people, though moving artwork, film scenes or physical contact with a person whom you feel strongly for can also cause a frisson.

Music that is likely to induce a frisson often has unexpected harmonies, sudden volume changes or moving solo performances that supply a sudden jolt to listeners.

When people experience a frisson, their bodies may react in physical ways. They may feel a tingle or chill up the spine or notice small bumps or raised hairs on their arms.

Studies have shown that people who experience frissons are more likely to be open to new experiences, have active imaginations, see the beauty in nature, love variety and often think very deeply about their feelings. They may be more emotional than others and are very curious.


“I always had a frisson when I heard the Champions League music. To play in that competition, to score a goal in it, is something special for me.”
(Antoine Griezmann)

“The problem with shooting in Paris is, it’s been shot to death. When you’re in it, you already think you’re in a movie, so how do you get away from that feeling, and give some frisson to the viewer?”
(Pawel Pawlikowski)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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