metus (mee-t<<schwa>>s), n. [Latin] Roman law. 1. Fear of imminent danger; apprehension of serious danger, esp. in the form of duress to force a person to do something; the use of threats to bring about some end. • Metus was more comprehensive than duress is in Anglo-American law. It included fear of any evil that was serious enough to affect a reasonable person.
“Fear (metus) had the same effect as fraud as regards the avoidance of the contract. It might be set up by way of defence (exceptio metus) or be the ground of restitutio in integrum, or give rise to an action (actio metus) …. It was not any kind of fear which grounded this action. The evil threatened must be of a serious character ….” R.W. Lee, The Elements of Roman Law 352 (4th ed. 1956).
2. A threat that diminishes the value of another’s property. • In both senses, a victim was allowed to seek fourfold damages against the perpetrator. Cf. DOLUS.
[Blacks Law 8th]