[ haw-rip-uh-leyt, ho- ]
/ hɔˈrɪp əˌleɪt, hɒ- /
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verb (used with object), hor·rip·i·lat·ed, hor·rip·i·lat·ing.
to produce horripilation on.
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Origin of horripilate

First recorded in 1615–25, horripilate is from the Latin word horripilātus (past participle of horripilāre to become bristly). See horrify, pile3, -ate1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does horripilate mean?

Horripilate is a technical term meaning to make the hair stand up—to trigger goose bumps. It can also mean to experience this—to get goose bumps.

This can happen due to cold, fear, or excitement. The process or an instance of this is called horripilation (or piloerection).

Horripilation doesn’t only happen in humans. When some animals get startled or threatened, their fur raises in response. (When the fur becomes raised in this way on the neck, such as on a dog or cat, we say they’ve raised their hackles.)

The same thing happens in humans, and is usually most noticeable in places where we don’t have much hair or the hair is very fine, such as the arms and neck.

Example: Horror movies have the power to horripilate the viewer.

Where does horripilate come from?

The first records of the word horripilate come from the 1600s. It comes from the Latin verb horripilāre, “to become bristly.” The first part comes from the Latin verb horrēre, “to stand on end,” “to tremble,” or “to bristle with fear.” The second part comes from the Latin pilus, meaning “hair” (the pilo- part of piloerection can be traced back to the same root). The word horror (and related words like horrify and horrific) also derives from horrēre and is based on hair standing on end due to fear.

Horripilation in response to being scared has led to the term hair-raising to describe a frightening experience. Biologically speaking, things that horripilate cause an involuntary reaction called the pilomotor reflex. It involves the contraction of tiny muscles at the base of each hair follicle called arrector pili (a name that’s based on the same roots as piloerection). This contraction results in the hairs standing up. When there’s no hair there or the hairs are very small, this reaction appears as bumps on the skin. These bumps are said to resemble those on the skin of a goose that has had its feathers plucked, hence the name goose bumps.

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What are some other forms related to horripilate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with horripilate? 

What are some words that often get used in discussing horripilate?

How is horripilate used in real life?

Horripilate is a technical term. In everyday conversation, people usually just say that something gave them goose bumps.



Try using horripilate!

Which of the following things can horripilate?

A. fear
B. cold
C. excitement
D. all of the above