Is there a colorful Latin term for an uninvited guest? Of course I can say something like conviva non invitatus, but I wonder if there is something less boring, akin to the English "gatecrasher" or the Finnish "kuokkavieras" (lit. "mattock guest"). Does anyone know a suitable phrase?

2 Answers 2


I have just now stumbled upon an idiomatic word for an uninvited guest: umbra (see Lewis & Short, definition at I.B.3)

In a description of a disastrous dinner party, Horace mentions:

quos Maecenas adduxerat umbras

the uninvited guests that Maecenas had brought with him

Horace, Satires, 2.8.22

And in a dinner party invitation to Torquatus, Horace promises that:

locus est et pluribus umbris

there is room too for several uninvited guests

Horace, Epistles, 1.5.28


I was sure that Catullus or Martial would be full of gate crashers - it seems like something they would love to mock. Alas, I couldn't find any!

I did find the following and it’s interesting to see that Macrobius’ use of inruere (“to fall with violence, rush down; to fall down”) in the following almost parallels the English sense of crashing a party:

tunc ille: ‘supervenire fabulis non evocatos haud equidem turpe existimatur, verum sponte inruere in convivium aliis praeparatum … ’

then he said: ‘For my part I think there’s nothing disgraceful for the uninvited to add to a conversation [already underway], but to willingly crash a party prepared for others [that’s not acceptable] …’

Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.10

Note too his use of non evocatus for not invited, rather than non invitatus. I realise Macrobius is quite late but see also invocatus to mean uninvited, which is attested much earlier than Macrobius. Not a very interesting or colourful term, I admit.

Perhaps asymbolus would work, defined as not contributing anything to a party or meal. It’s from the Greek ἀσύμβολος, itself a reference to the custom of συμβολή, “contributions made to provide a common meal; … contribution, subscription to the expenses of a festival, etc.” This at least captures the free-loading character of the gate crasher if not explicitly referencing their lack of an invitation (because I guess someone could legitimately be at a dinner party yet still arrive empty-handed).

  • I had to unaccept this one, since there was a more colorful suggestion in another answer. I hope you don't mind. ;)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 9:52
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Not at all ;)
    – Penelope
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 10:00

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