I was going to mention panic-buying in Joonas's apposite Q:What should the corona virus be called in Latin?; but as answers poured in, it seemed less & less appropriate.

Running concomitant with (the fear of) the Coronavirus, the regrettable phenomenon of panic-buying. To express this, in Latin, the well-known phrase "delirium tremens" = "frenzied shaking", the violent, physiological reaction to alcohol withdrawal, could be adapted, giving: "delirium emens" = "frenzied/ crazed buying".

Alternatively, the nominative of the gerund, the infinitive: "timere est emere" = "fearing is buying".

Supermarkets claim to disapprove of panic-buying; but, is this really credible? For them it may be a case of (borrowing Tom-Cotton's astute technique on Q:A Convenient Co-operation, of adapting Caligula's infamous, pithy aphorism):

"metuant dum emant" = "let them fear, provided that they buy".

Any thoughts on a translation of "panic-buying"?


1 Answer 1


A rather literal translation would be emptio ex pavore. If you can live with a word that strictly only refers to food, you could also say frumentatio ex pavore. Frumentatio seems to be more of a military word, but I say it fits in this case. I think you could also use the plural and say emptiones, but frumentationes, perhaps not so much. (My dictionary says that would be the baggage train.)

Stressing less the motive (panic) and more the excessiveness of the behaviour, you could also say emptiones nimiae or immoderatae, or perhaps Nimium emendi.

Note that “panic buying” is a rather specific and also somewhat judgemental term, implying the purchases are irrational and likely useless. Depending on the circumstances, such buying patterns may also be sensible. A more neutral term could therefore be something like copias coacervare (or coacervatio copiarum?), or perhaps accumulare.

  • Sebastian Koppehel: Thank you. The British press has made light of panic-buying--it's all a bit of a joke--empty shelves reminiscent of a scene from the Third World. These things can turn ugly; food riots, savagery. We think that we are immune from such circumstances--is that true? It was the potential nightmares that I attempted to encapsulate in "delirium emens".
    – tony
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 11:27

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