Better known as goose bumps, a temporary local change in the skin when it becomes rougher due to erection of little muscles, as from cold, fear, or excitement. The chain of events leading to this skin change starts with a stimulus such as cold or fear. That stimulus causes a nerve discharge from the sympathetic nervous system, a portion of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system. The nerve discharge causes contraction of little muscles called the arrectores pilorum (the hair erector muscles). Contraction of these muscles elevates the hair follicles above the rest of the skin. And it is these tiny elevations we perceive as goose bumps. The words used to describe this condition are very curious and quite colorful. Goose bumps are also referred to as "gooseflesh." A fancier term for this familiar phenomenon is "horripilation." Horripilation was compounded from the Latin "horrere", to stand on end + "pilus", hair = hair standing on end. (If you think "horripilation" sounds horrible, you're right. The word "horrible" also came from the Latin "horrere" and referred to something that was so awfully dreadfully frightful that it made your hair stand on end.) Medicine does not use a horrible term such as "horripilation" and rarely resorts to the commonplace words, goose bumps or gooseflesh. Medicine has a special term, "cutis anserina" for goose bumps. But it goes back to the goose again, since "cutis", skin + "anser", goose = goose skin. Some biologists believe that goose bumps evolved as part of the fight-or-flight reaction along with heart rate increases that send the heart racing while blood rushes to the muscles to give them additional oxygen. A similar phenomenon, bristling, in fur-covered animals may have made them look larger and more frightening and kept them warmer by increasing the amount of air between hairs which traps body heat. But in people there seems to be no practical purpose for goose bumps except, of course, to make our skin crawl.
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Erection of the fine hairs on contraction of the arrectores pilorum. [L. horreo, to bristle, + pilus, hair]

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hor·rip·i·la·tion hȯ-.rip-ə-'lā-shən, hä- n a bristling of the hair of the head or body (as from disease, terror, or chilliness): GOOSE BUMPS
hor·rip·i·late hȯ-'rip-ə-.lāt, hä- vt, -lat·ed; -lat·ing

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hor·rip·i·la·tion (hor″ĭ-pĭ-laґshən) [L. horrere to bristle, to stand on end + pilus hair] erection of the fine hairs of the skin, as in cutis anserina; called also piloerection.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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  • horripilation — [ ɔripilasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1495; bas lat. horripilatio 1 ♦ Physiol. Érection des poils dans le frisson. ⇒ hérissement (cf. Chair de poule). Le froid provoque l horripilation. 2 ♦ (XIXe) État d agacement, d exaspération extrême. « une répugnance, une …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Horripilation — Hor*rip i*la tion, n. [L. horripilatio, fr. horripilare to bristle; horrere to bristle + pilus the hair: cf. F. horripilation.] (Med.) A real or fancied bristling of the hair of the head or body, resulting from disease, terror, chilliness, etc.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Horripilation — (v. lat.), fieberhaftes Frösteln …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Horripilation — Horripilation, lat. deutsch, Frösteln, schwächerer Fieberfrost …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • horripilation — (n.) from L.L. horripilationem (nom. horripilatio), noun of action from pp. stem of horripilare, from stem of horrere to bristle (see HORROR (Cf. horror)) + pilus hair …   Etymology dictionary

  • horripilation — [hô rip΄ə lā′shən] n. [LL horripilatio: see HORRIPILATE] the erection of hair of the head or body, as from fear, disease, or cold; goose flesh …   English World dictionary

  • Horripilation — Chair de poule Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chair de poule (homonymie). Chair de poule sur un humain La chair de poule est une réaction de l …   Wikipédia en Français

  • horripilation — /haw rip euh lay sheuhn, ho /, n. a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear, etc.; goose flesh. [1615 25; < LL horripilation (s. of horripilatio). See HORRIPILATE, ION] * * * …   Universalium

  • horripilation — (o rri pi la sion ; en vers, de six syllabes) s. f. Terme de médecine. Frissonnement général qui précède la fièvre, et pendant lequel les poils, se dressant sur la surface du corps, produisent l état qu on nomme chair de poule. HISTORIQUE    XVIe …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • HORRIPILATION — s. f. (On prononce les deux R.) T. de Médec. Frissonnement accompagné de froid, qui fait hérisser les poils …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

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