Word of the week: Piloerection

This week Errol Kerr Looks into this hair raising word

14th December 2016

“Piloerection” contrary to my initial belief-slash-hope is not an Irishman describing a gathering of excited male genitalia. However, a piloerection is something we can all get, and have little control over. No shame to be had in these random erection moments here. Piloerections are involuntary reactions whereby your hair follicles force your hairs to bristle on edge due to a reflex – whether it’s the cold, shock, fright, or a drug or some such which causes it.

No shame to be had in these random erection moments here

You’ll know them more affectionately as goosebumps, goosepimples, gooseflesh, or some other thing involving geese. Seriously, why geese?! Anyway, so the idea is that, when humans had longer hair, this would bounce into action when we were under threat, and by making our body hairs stand on end, we’d theoretically make ourselves appear larger to possible predators. It works for other animals – most animals with hair utilise this – it’s why your cat turns into a fluffball when it’s pissed off. In humans? Just makes us look odd.

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