Such a lovely-sounding word; such a subtle, complex, and nearly universal emotion: “acute vexation, annoyance, or mortification, arising from disappointment, thwarting, or failure,” as the OED puts it*; “disquietude or distress of mind caused by humiliation, disappointment, or failure,” according to Merriam-Webster. It found its way into English from French in the late 17th century, and was considered “affected or frenchified” for several decades thereafter. Alexander Pope used chagrin in his 1714 narrative poem “The Rape of the Lock,” where he rhymed it with “spleen.” (Pope may have been singlehandedly responsible for rescuing chagrin from French purgatory: the OED gives two additional example sentences from his correspondence.)
I was surprised to learn that chagrin comes not from the language of moods but from the lexicon of the physical world. You may know its Anglicized form, shagreen (yes, rhymes with “spleen”), which means “rough, untanned leather … prepared from the skin of the horse, ass, etc., or of the shark, seal, etc., and frequently dyed green.” It’s also a color name.
From The Spruce, a home-and-family website: “If you're looking for a fun green paint color, consider Shagreen. This green is right on the cusp of warm and cool, with just enough softness to push it over to the cool side.”
How did a word for a type of leather become a word for a type of feeling?