Horripilation – that’s what!  Horripilation. Repeat after me – haw-rip-uh-LEY-shuhn!

Have you been feeling this lately? It’s a noun meaning “a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear, etc; goose flesh.”  As kids, we used to call this “chicken-skin” or “goose-bumps.”

I saved this “Word of the Day” because of its reference to fear, but with this unseasonably cold weather we’re having, horripilation is a common occurrence. It’s one of those bodily reactions we can’t really control. I probably learned why in biology class many decades ago, something to do with conservation of body heat.

It shares a root with the word horror in the Latin verb horrere, meaning “to bristle,” and entered English in the mid-1600’s.  I’ve never heard it used, nor have I ever read it anywhere. But it’s fun to say and I will be looking for an opportunity to use it soon. 🙂

It’s fascinating that our bodies react to cold and to fear in a similar way, isn’t it? The skin’s role is to protect what’s inside the body, so it makes sense that our bodies put up this defense system when fear strikes too. I don’t have any deep, relevant, philosophical or spiritual truths to share. I do know that this sudden onslaught of “too-much, too-soon” snow is horrifying, though, when your geraniums and mums are still in their pots on the snow-covered porch and the summer-blooming bulbs that should have been dug up are now buried in the frozen earth.

Do you ever have a sensation of horripilation? Tell me about it. 🙂


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