You've felt it before. The shudder that goes down your spine when a song comes on the radio. The tear that wells in your eye when you watch a video that isn't particularly sad. The way your skin prickles with electricity as you read the words across a page.

fris·son   noun   \frē-ˈsōⁿ\
: a sudden strong feeling or emotion
: a brief moment of emotional excitement
: shudder, thrill


To me, frisson is a rush; a way to experience something new, or grand in the comfort of my own living room, or office. Frisson is a empathic experience from me to every person in the world, or just one for a fleeting moment. To me, frisson lets me experience the highest accomplishments of humankind as well as the anguish of a lost individual - it lets me know that I can feel, and yes, I am in fact a human. Not just a human, but a human experiencing this thing called life and not to waste it. Frisson is a powerful force.

Here are a few collected pieces from around the internet (and otherwise) which do it for me.

  1. Downtown Dubai 2014 Fireworks Display

  2. An Astronaut's Guide to Life On Earth

    Looking out on the second day of our mission, I became aware that in the far distance, there was a distinctive-looking star. It stood out because, while all the other stars stayed exactly the same size and shape, this one got bigger and bigger as we got closer to it. At some point it stopped being a point of light and started becoming something three-dimensional, morphing into a strange bug-like thing with all kinds of appendages. And then, isolated against this inky background, it started to look like a small town. Which is in fact what it is: an outpost humans have built, far from Earth. The International Space Station. It's every science fiction book come true, every little kid's dream realized: a large, capable, fully human creation orbiting up in the universe.
    Chris Hadfield via reddit

  3. Wingsuit Flight by Jeb Corliss

  4. F-22 Raptor in flight

  5. Crowd singing back to Marcus Mumford

  6. Penn Jillete defining comedic timing
    This is probably my favorite on the list. This is a long read, but worth it. Penn Jillete uses a NASA space shuttle launch as an example of comedic timing, and the read is pure frisson. You can read it here.

Not all of these examples may evoke what I've described to you, and that's alright. What is important is that you know that this feeling, frisson, is so important to the human experience that someone went out and made a word for it. Watch something deep this weekend, read a book, or go do something. Make it count, though. Make sure when you talk about it, you and everybody listening nearby will get that electric feeling that only comes with frisson.