Trying to translate a cooking recipe into Latin, I stumbled upon the ingredient “ground meat” and wondered how to best render this in Latin. Since ground meat is not actually, well, ground (molita, contrita, these seem inappropriate) but minced (hence also “minced meat” or simply “mince”), we could maybe say: caro concisa vel consecata.

For “hash,” Smith & Hall also offer: minutal, which they also give for “mince.” But that does not have to be meat. Forcellini just defines minutal as: genus edulii ex oleribus, aliisve cibis minutatim concisis, varieque conditis. That does not really sound like ground meat to me. Maybe one could say minutal carnis?

Smith & Hall also have an entry for “mince-meat,” but in the figurative sense: “Phr.: to make m. of one’s enemies, fartum facere ex hostibus, Pl. Mil. 1, 1, 8 (= ita minutatim concidere, ut solent coqui carnes dissecare farciminibus faciendis, Forcell.).” The problem with fartum (well, apart from the obvious, if you're writing for an English-speaking audience; in that case you could follow Forcellini and say farcimen) is that it really means “filling” or “stuffing.” (Plautus again: non vestem amatores mulieris amant, sed vestis fartum, Most. 1, 3, 13; papae hanc imaginem mentis!)

So what word do I use for ground or minced meat?

  • Interestingly, from this educating question alone with its survey of options, I would vote for caro molita, since real ground meat does not really exist, hence it must refer to minced meat; I suppose, on the other hand, that caro concisa for example might also refer to something else than minced meat.
    – d_e
    Aug 27, 2021 at 22:04
  • @d_e I would certainly agree with molae carnariae for "meat grinder." Aug 28, 2021 at 9:47
  • Great question. Re your last suggestion, I've often heard panis far[c]tus used for "sandwich."
    – brianpck
    Aug 28, 2021 at 12:54
  • Do you want something strictly Classical or can we play with coinages?
    – cmw
    Aug 28, 2021 at 18:48
  • @cmw It does not need to be strictly classical. Aug 28, 2021 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


Apicius has the following recipe:

Glires: isicio porcino, item pulpis ex omni membro glirium trito, cum pipere, nucleis, lasere, liquamine farcies glires, et sutos in tegula positos mittesin furnum aut farsos in clibano coques.

Is stuffed with a forcemeat of pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, nuts, laser, broth. Put the dormouse thus stuffed in an earthen casserole, roast it in the oven, or boil it in the stock pot. (trans. Vehling)

That trito comes from tero, terere, which we see in another passage of Apicius:

iecur coques, teres, et mittes piper aut liquamen aut salem. addes oleum. iecur leporis aut haedi aut agni aut pulli, et, si volueris, in formella piscem formabis. oleum viridem supra adicies.

Cook liver, grind it up, and add pepper, fish sauce, or salt. Add olive oil. The liver [can be from a] rabbit, goat, lamb, or chicken, and if you want, shape it in the form of a fish. Sprinkle virgin oil over it.

Going off these two examples, I would say that either isicia or isicium + animal adjective or noun + trita would be just fine.

(I'm not entirely sure why the -n- was lost in later sources, but it's the same as Varro's insicia below.)

For isicium/insicia, it's unclear how much this is minced and how much it is just cut up into pieces (which would explain the plural). Varro provides a basic definition, but doesn't go into details:

Insicia ab eo quod insecta caro.

Insicia from this, that the meat is insecta ('cut up').

I wonder if this is closer to something like "chunks" you would use for beef stew? It's not really clear from the passages, but at the very least it's fine for stuffing dormice, so the chunks can't be too large.

Besides insicium, terere is also a good option, and the pieces of caro tritum must be small, since you're not really able to shape the meat into the form of a fish without it being ground up.

Given that both appear in the same recipe by Apicius, both are likely fine.

For "meat", you have the options of carnarius or the post-classical carneus. I'd probably go with the former, given that Plautus uses it.

So, putting it all together, we get either option:

  1. i(n)sicium carnarium in the singular or plural, or

  2. caro trita

  • 2
    Isicia is a terrific find, even if it's "very rare." And look, Diocletian's Big Book of Everything has both isicium porcinum and isicia bubula (why the difference in number, I wonder). This also allows for isicia mixta. For understandability, it is probably better to say bubula trita etc., though. Aug 29, 2021 at 7:21
  • 2
    @SebastianKoppehel Yeah, I take some of those pronouncements by Lewis and Short with a grain of salt. It's inclusion in Diocletian's edict seals the deal for its worth as a usable word. And Apicius uses it plenty.
    – cmw
    Aug 29, 2021 at 16:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.