Now I need you all to think of something for me… Think of the scariest thing you have ever seen! Alright, now check to see if the hairs on the back of your neck are standing on end.
We can thank Shakespeare for coining the term makes your hair stand on end, to describe something that is really scary! When we are scared or cold, the short hairs on the back of the neck stand straight up, so this was more of an observation than the creation of a new phrase!
This phrase made its first appearance in Hamlet, during a conversation between Hamlet and his Father’s ghost.
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
What makes your hair stand on end? Leave me a comment!