Who says ‘gooseflesh’ anyway?

Posted by Peter Hall - July 5th 2008 @ 9:50 am

I think it every time I cross it.  Just now I was taking a healthy while reading Joe Hill’s 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS when I encountered the term at least twice in the titular story.  We all know the intent of the author when they spring the word ‘gooseflesh’.  They mean ‘goosebumps’.  And when I mean goosebumps, I say goosebumps.  When you mean goosebumps, I warrant that you say goosebumps, as well.

Novelists don’t, however.  If I were the OCD type, I could keep a tab of authors who voice the term ‘gooseflesh’ and I’d further warrant that 9 out of 10 books on my shelf would be guilty.  Yet I’ve never once heard anyone in the real world speak that compound word.  Have you?  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it drives me crazy, but it does baffle me.

My experience with geese is limited to one of three categories:  Geese are either honking at me, biting at me, or getting eaten by me.  None of those encounters has ever provided evidence that they are in a permanent state of bumpily skin, but I suppose they must be as both descriptions contain goose.  However my protest still stands.  Bumps I can relate to, but who the hell says ‘gooseflesh’?

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  1. R.J. Sayer
    July 5th, 2008 | 11:52 am | #1

    “It is named after a supposed resemblance to the appearance of the skin of a bird whose feathers have been plucked out.”

    dude, wikipedia. seriously.

    and i have actually heard people speak the word allowed.

  2. July 5th, 2008 | 12:25 pm | #2

    You’ve actually heard someone say something along the lines of, “Oooh, that gave me gooseflesh?”

  3. July 5th, 2008 | 4:48 pm | #3

    I’ve heard folks say it. I know people who use both: bumps being more child-like and exciting while gooseflesh has more dreadful connotations.

    And, out of the two terms, its the one that’s been around longer. There’s no recorded use of “goosebumps” until the 1930s. In contrast, people have been using “gooseflesh” since the 1810s. The latter was in use more than a century before the former showed up.

    If novelists really wanted to seem hoity-toity they’d drop the now archaic synonym “horripilate.”

  4. R.J. Sayer
    July 5th, 2008 | 4:57 pm | #4

    nice to know i’m no longer the only obnoxious fucking smart-ass making comments here.

  5. July 5th, 2008 | 5:42 pm | #5

    Well, I believe I do not just stated corrected, but I stand served.

  6. July 5th, 2008 | 7:31 pm | #6

    You have just given me and Jon a new word to use when talking in aristicraty.

  7. Andy Walker
    July 6th, 2008 | 2:08 am | #7

    I’m with you Peter. I, for one, will never write nor say “allowed” that stupid word.

    P.S. I hear BRAINSCAN is available on Netflix.

  8. R.J. Sayer
    July 6th, 2008 | 3:11 am | #8

    wow, did i really pull that bit of phoenetic idiocy?


    i guess i did.

    please excuse me now, while i hang my head in severe fuckin’ shame.

  9. July 6th, 2008 | 9:37 pm | #9

    Alright, God Damnit. I’m reactivating my Netflix account and getting BRAINSCAN this week. It better scan the ever living shit out of me, AKW.

  10. July 7th, 2008 | 5:18 pm | #10

    I said (and heard) “goosebumps” until I was about 15 or 16, when I heard someone else say “chillbumps.” Kinda freaked me out, to be perfectly honest with you. I still say goosebumps and rarely hear anything else.

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