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Formication

Definition: Hallucinated sensation of insects or snakes crawling over one’s skin.

Pronunciation: for-mi-caishen

Origin:

The word formication derives from the Latin formica, meaning an ant, precisely an ant because of the similarity in sensation to that of crawling insects.

Why this word?

If you read it as fornication at first glance, then your brain has some serious questions to answer. It is a pretty common malapropism, but even if you didn’t read it as fornication, this world still has a lot to offer you.

It usually transpires like the following:

Hey dude, is there something crawling up my back?

And he’d tell you, “No, it’s just the Static electricity attracting particulates to the skin, causing your body hair to move, giving the sensation of insect crawling over your skin”- now in case your friend actually had all that knowledge- he could have replaced the entire story with one word- formication.

More rarely, some individuals become convinced that this sensation is coming from real insects. In these cases,”patients” have what is known as delusional parasitosis, believing that their skin is inhabited by, or under attack of small insects or similar parasites, this despite repeated reassurances from physicians, pest control experts, and entomologists claiming otherwise.

How to use it in a sentence?

He sighed in resignation, knowing that he would have to endure several minutes of uncomfortable formication before the feeling fully returned to his numb fingers

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Written by Akshay Dashore

Akshay is a Civil engineer who, for his love of words, preferred words over engineering. He is an avid reader and a prolific writer.

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