hor·​rip·​i·​la·​tion hȯ-ˌri-pə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce horripilation (audio)
: a bristling of the hair of the head or body (as from fright or excitement) : goose bumps
Suddenly he was swept by horripilation. The goosebumps swept up from his ankles all the way to the nape of his neck, where the hairs stirred and tried to lift.Stephen King
horripilate verb, transitive + intransitive
horripilated; horripilating; horripilates
The Devil's Reign reads like a memoir with a supernatural element designed to entertain and horripilate the reader … ForeWord

Examples of horripilation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Shivaree, chthonian, erumpent, tintinnabulation, exonumia, requiescat, deipnosophist, omphaloskepsis, horripilation, deliquesce, apopemptic. Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'horripilation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin horripilātiōn-, horripilātiō "bristling of hair," from horripilāre "to shudder" (Latin, "to become bristly or hairy," from horrēre "to be stiffly erect, bristle, shudder, shiver" + -i- -i- + -pilāre, verbal derivative of pilus "hair," of obscure origin) + Latin -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at horror entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of horripilation was circa 1656

Dictionary Entries Near horripilation

Cite this Entry

“Horripilation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horripilation. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


hor·​rip·​i·​la·​tion hȯ-ˌrip-ə-ˈlā-shən, hä- How to pronounce horripilation (audio)
: a bristling of the hair of the head or body (as from disease, terror, or chilliness) : goose bumps
horripilate transitive verb
horripilated; horripilating
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