• frisson •
fri-soN • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A sudden moment of intense excitement, a thrill. 2. A shudder, shiver.
Notes: Here is a word that is so freshly borrowed, it hasn't even lost its French pronunciation. It hasn't had time to procreate lexical derivations. Remember to double the S; frison is some kind of woolen stuff.
In Play: We should expect frissons in any motion picture called "a thriller": "American movie thrillers always have at least one long chase scene replete with one frisson after another." Theme parks have rides devised to produce frissons: "Marvin's ride on the roller coaster provided such a frisson that he upchucked his lunch."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Old French fricons, the plural of fricon "a trembling", from Vulgar Latin frictio(n), the action noun of Latin frigere "to be cold" from frigus, frigor- "cold(ness)". (This word is only coincidentally identical with the action noun for fricare "to rub", whence English friction.) Latin inherited its word for "cold" from PIE root (s)rig- "cold" with an initial Fickle S. It is also the source also of Greek rhigos "cold, frost". It may also be related to Latin rigidus "stiff, rigid" via the sense of "frozen", which English copped for its rigid.
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