Horripilation

ColdHorripilation is the erection of hairs on the skin caused by cold, fear, excitement or other emotion.

The OED provides one early definition from 1656:

Horripilation, the standing up of the hair for fear..a sudden quaking, shuddering or shivering.” Glossographia, Thomas Blount.

The word originates from the Latin horrere meaning (of hair) ‘to stand on end’ and pilus meaning ‘hair’. Horrere also means ‘to tremble’ or ‘dread’.

Something that causes this reaction is described as horripilant. Horripilate is the form meaning ‘to undergo or to cause horripilation’.

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7 thoughts on “Horripilation

  1. This s weird. I had this exact feeling yesterday. I was at mom’s house and we turned around and a family member was standing at the open door. She hadn’t spoken and was standing with a blank look on her face. It startled the hell out of us. Now iI can put a name to the experience.

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  2. This word is used in ‘Aren’t We Sisters?’ by Patricia Ferguson. I had no idea what it meant so I looked it up. Its funny how words seem to have a ‘heyday’ before it falls out of the public perception. It just goes to show that language is still evolving.

    Liked by 1 person

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