- 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.
- an instance, outbreak, or period of such fear.
- 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.
- Slang. someone or something that is considered hilariously funny: The comedian was an absolute panic.
- of the nature of, caused by, or indicating panic: A wave of panic buying shook the stock market.
- (of fear, terror, etc.) suddenly destroying the self-control and impelling to some frantic action.
- (initial capital letter) of or relating to the god Pan.
- to affect with panic; terrify and cause to flee or lose self-control.
- Slang. to keep (an audience or the like) highly amused.
- to be stricken with panic; become frantic with fear: The herd panicked and stampeded.
Origin of panic1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for panicky
It's a panicky move coming amid a deluge of corruption allegations a week before key elections.Turkey’s Useless Twitter Ban
March 21, 2014
“He was embarrassed and panicky and apologized and said ‘I wanted to see if I could get myself free,’” she told the court.Scotland Yard: Dead Spy in a Bag Probably an Accident
November 14, 2013
You heard the panicky tones of operatives flooded with calls from the field about technical snafus and mass confusion.The Romney Campaign’s Ground Game Fiasco
Eli Lake, Daniel Klaidman, Ben Jacobs
November 9, 2012
There is also no reason for a panicky Islamophobic response.What Pakistan's Terrorists Want
May 4, 2010
People get panicky, they're afraid to stay the course, so they start selling.Interview With Edmund Phelps
The Daily Beast
July 13, 2009
He wondered with a panicky feeling whether he had hurt her in any way.The Harbor of Doubt
He had rested but a moment, when he was seized with an extraordinary "panicky" feeling.Two Boys in Wyoming
Edward S. Ellis
Briscoe might get it away from me, or he might not; but I wa'n't goin' to get panicky over it.Torchy, Private Sec.
I'm so scared that if I'm intercepted, I may get panicky, and if I do someone is likely to get hurt.Highways in Hiding
George Oliver Smith
I've got some ideas I don't dare tell you about; you might get panicky and run!Blacksheep! Blacksheep!
- a sudden overwhelming feeling of terror or anxiety, esp one affecting a whole group of people
- (modifier) of or resulting from such terrorpanic measures
- to feel or cause to feel panic
- of or relating to the god Pan
Word Origin and History for panicky
"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.
type 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).
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.
- A sudden overpowering feeling of terror.