Suppose one of the four batches of amphorae produced yesterday at my pottery is discovered to be deficient and has to be thrown away instead of being sold. What should I call such a "bad batch" in Latin? I am looking for an expression that would make sense for many kinds of products, not just for this specific use — just like the English word "batch".

I am basically after two words here: one for "batch" and one for "bad" in this sense. My first thought for "bad" is malus, but I fear it might be too much in the direction of "evil" when I just want to refer to low quality. The two words for "batch" that come to mind are portio and copia, but neither seems to be a perfect fit. I am either missing some words or insufficiently convinced that the words I know can be used for this purpose. How would you go about expressing "bad batch" in Latin and why?

(This question was inspired by a new Star Wars animated series that premiered this week.)


1 Answer 1


Maybe something like:

"numerus vitiosus factus" or "numerus vitiose factus"


"a defective quantity having been made" or "a quantity having been made defectively"

It appears that the word "factus" alone can imply a made quantity- at least in the case of olive oil production, so one could potentially even drop the "numerus", but it would be necessary to see more examples to determine if this is a valid usage in general.

premi plus quam centenos modios non probant: factus vocatur; quod vero post molam primum expressum est, flos. factus tres gemino foro a quaternis hominibus nocte et die premi iustum est.

It is recommended, that not more than one hundred modii should be pressed at one time: the name given to this quantity is "factus," while the oil that flows out at the first pressure is called the "flos." Four men, working at two presses day and night, ought to be able to press out three factuses of olives.

-Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, Book 15, Chapter 6

In any case, using "numerus factus" seems like a reasonable way to refer to a "batch" of something.

Considering the word "bad" in the sense of "defective", there is an example of the word "vitiosus" being used to describe a bad product in the context of brick making:

Ducendi autem sunt per vernum tempus et autumnale, ut uno tenore siccescant. qui enim per solstitium parantur, ideo vitiosi fiunt, quod, summum corium sol acriter cum praecoquit, efficit, ut videatur aridum, interior autem sit non siccus; et cum postea siccescendo se contrahit, perrumpit ea, quae erant arida.

Bricks should be made in Spring or Autumn, so that they may dry uniformly. Those made in Summer are defective, because the fierce heat of the sun bakes their surface and makes the brick seem dry while inside it is not dry.

-Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books on Architecture, Book 2, Chapter 3






  • 1
    A fascinating use of numerus which I had never come across before. Thanks! Do you think numerus would also be appropriate for things that are not counting nouns, like cookie dough? (I'm just curious. Clearly clones are counting nouns.)
    – Figulus
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 2:13
  • 1
    @Figulus Not sure, but i would imagine that usage of "numerus" in the sense of "quantity" is only valid for countable quantities since one would logically expect a number of something to be countable. (Just don't ask the folks over at mathematics stack exchange or they will tell you that the set of real numbers is uncountable :))
    – nellapizza
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 1:26

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