When I listen to a beautiful piece of music, for instance Quizas by Andrea Bocelli, I am feeling something is under my skin, moving. I don't know if there exists a word to express such a feeling.

  • Is the feeling you are describing unique to only hearing music? Can the feeling you are looking to describe be felt with other things? – ESR Aug 25 '17 at 1:46
  • @EdmundReed Mostly music and MV. I may have experienced no such feelings for other things yet. – Lerner Zhang Aug 25 '17 at 3:36

My first thought was the word goosebumps (which often refers to literal goosebumps, but can be used figuratively as well, as in, "That music gives me goosebumps."). Then I saw an article that said:

Why Does Great Music Give You the Chills?

Have you ever been listening to a great piece of music and felt a chill run up your spine? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders?

The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning “aesthetic chills,” and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin.

Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trigger of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie, or having physical contact with another person.

I don't think the word is all that well-known, but it might be exactly what you are experiencing. The word chills (used in the article's headline) might be a more well-recognized substitute.

  • More on the science of frisson and music can be found in this Smithsonian article. – J.R. Aug 24 '17 at 13:45
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    I sometimes describe it as "shivers down my spine." – Octopus Aug 24 '17 at 16:27
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    Welp. I learned something new today. – cjl750 Aug 24 '17 at 19:26
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    @peterG - I think 'on' and 'awn' are pronounced the same, just like 'don' and 'dawn' are homophones (at least where I live). In any event, the pronunciation is in the original quoted article, not something I added in. – J.R. Aug 25 '17 at 13:31
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    @J.R. In most North American accents, "on" and "awn" are both pronounced /ɑːn/, where in British English, "on" is /ɒn/, and "awn" is /ɔːn/. The Cambridge Dictionary has "frisson" as /ˈfriː.sɒ/ (UK), and /ˈfriːˈsoʊn/ (US). (Though the audio for the UK is actually /ˈfriː.sɒ̃/.) – wjandrea Aug 25 '17 at 17:57

euphoric or euphoria


But when I wrote the check, it was the most euphoric feeling.


She was flooded with euphoria as she went to the podium to receive her Student Research Award.

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    "I wrote the check", "she went to the podium to receive" The question is about listening to music. – idmean Aug 24 '17 at 17:57
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    Please don't plagiarize. If you are "borrowing" example sentences from other dictionaries, provide a link. – J.R. Aug 24 '17 at 18:01
  • Catharsis or cathartic may fit in certain situations as well, though I prefer Rudy's 'euphoria' here. – Eternal21 Aug 24 '17 at 18:09
  • @J.R. - LMAO plagiarizing a dictionary :D – Davor Aug 25 '17 at 20:56
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    @Davor - It's not a laughing matter. We expect dictionary references to be cited on ELL. – J.R. Aug 26 '17 at 21:44

If the music so good it is sublime you might be experiencing "numinous".

This word is for when something is so good that you can't help but detect a hint of divinity or spirituality in it. This is also good for when you have deep seated connection to your fellow humans, perhaps after some great work of good you all share in numinous solidarity.


I've heard it referred to as an "Aesthetic Moment".

I am not a musician. I'd give a better reference if I could find one. The best I can do is say that I heard my daughter's high school chorus teacher use the phrase.

Another possible answer would be "bliss".

After reading JR's answer, it occured to me that a nice piece of music might give The warm fuzzies

In the time since I originally posted this, I've become aware of ASMR which, as far as I can tell, is a more scientific explanation of "Warm Fuzzies"


I encountered this article which explained that phenomenon, and find some good expressions from it:

  1. music gives you goosebumps
  2. have intense reactions to music
  3. react to songs in this heightened manner
  4. people experience chills
  5. people get goosebumps upon listening to music
  6. body completely changes when listening to the song
  7. listening to supposedly "sad" songs could actually boost someone's mood

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