1. a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.
  2. an instance, outbreak, or period of such fear.
  3. Finance. a sudden widespread fear concerning financial affairs leading to credit contraction and widespread sale of securities at depressed prices in an effort to acquire cash.
  4. Slang. someone or something that is considered hilariously funny: The comedian was an absolute panic.


  1. of the nature of, caused by, or indicating panic: A wave of panic buying shook the stock market.
  2. (of fear, terror, etc.) suddenly destroying the self-control and impelling to some frantic action.
  3. (initial capital letter) of or relating to the god Pan.

verb (used with object), pan·icked, pan·ick·ing.

  1. to affect with panic; terrify and cause to flee or lose self-control.
  2. Slang. to keep (an audience or the like) highly amused.

verb (used without object), pan·icked, pan·ick·ing.

  1. to be stricken with panic; become frantic with fear: The herd panicked and stampeded.


  1. a sudden overwhelming feeling of terror or anxiety, esp one affecting a whole group of people
  2. (modifier) of or resulting from such terrorpanic measures

verb -ics, -icking or -icked

  1. to feel or cause to feel panic


  1. of or relating to the god Pan

n.1“mass terror,” 1708, from earlier adjective (c.1600, modifying fear, terror, etc.), from French panique (15c.), from Greek panikon, literally “pertaining to Pan,” the god of woods and fields, who was the source of mysterious sounds that caused contagious, groundless fear in herds and crowds, or in people in lonely spots. In the sense of “panic, fright” the Greek word is short for panikon deima “panic fright,” from neuter of Panikos “of Pan.” Meaning “widespread apprehension about financial matters” is first recorded 1757. Panic button in figurative sense is first recorded 1955, the literal sense apparently is from parachuting. Panic attack attested by 1970. n.2type of grass, early 15c., from Old French panic “Italian millet,” from Latin panicum “panic grass, kind of millet,” from panus “ear of millet, a swelling” (cf. panocha). v.1827, “to afflict with panic,” from panic (n.). Intransitive sense of “to lose one’s head, get into a panic” is from 1902. Related: Panicked; panicking. n.

  1. A sudden overpowering feeling of terror.

see push the panic button.

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