amok

noun
\ ə-ˈmək How to pronounce amok (audio) , -ˈmäk How to pronounce amok (audio) \
variants: or less commonly \ ə-​ˈmək How to pronounce amuck (audio) \

Definition of amok

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malaysian culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior occurring worldwide in numerous countries and cultures

amok

adverb
variants: or less commonly amuck

Definition of amok (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a violently raging, wild, or uncontrolled manner used in the phrase run amokrioters running amok in the streetsConditions had allowed extremism to run amok.
2 : in a murderously frenzied state
variants: or less commonly amuck

Definition of amok (Entry 3 of 3)

: possessed with or motivated by a murderous or violently uncontrollable frenzy

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Did You Know?

Adverb

Amok first entered English in the mid-1600s as a noun meaning "murderous frenzy." In the 16th century, visitors to Southeast Asia first reported on a psychiatric disorder known in Malay as amok. Typically, the afflicted person (usually a Malay man) attacked bystanders in a frenzy, killing everyone in sight until he collapsed or was himself killed. By the 17th century English speakers had adopted both the noun and adverb forms of amok, as well as the phrase run amok, a translation of the Malay verb mengamok. The psychopathological behavior the noun amok refers to is now recognized to occur worldwide in numerous countries and cultures. As for the adverb, time has mitigated its violent nature; nowadays it usually describes the actions of the unruly and not the murderous.

Examples of amok in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The origin of the Wayfair incident—whether part of a strategic campaign to damage the company’s brand or an instance of rumors run amok—is unclear. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Brands Face a New Online Threat: Disinformation Attacks," 8 Oct. 2020 What typically follows is a disturbing look at a toxic male culture run amok. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, "Businesses from restaurants to health care need this election," 2 Oct. 2020 On the very day the fire broke out, about 400 firefighters had been called away to battle another blaze, the Hill fire, which ran amok 15 miles to the west. Yxta Maya Murray, Longreads, "Fire/Flood: A Southern California Pastoral," 19 Aug. 2020 Though ultimately discredited following the atrocities endured during multiple years of Nazi reign, eugenic theory was steeped in this sinister view of genetic governance, manifest destiny run amok. Jessica Helfand, Scientific American, "Darwin, Expression, and the Lasting Legacy of Eugenics," 13 Aug. 2020 But if an infection is allowed to run amok, the immune system might do the same, causing a lot of collateral damage in its prolonged and flailing attempts to control the virus. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic’s Biggest Mystery Is Our Own Immune System," 5 Aug. 2020 Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and DeRozan flanked 7-footer Jakob Poeltl as the Spurs ran amok en route to a 129-120 victory over the Kings. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "New-look San Antonio Spurs could be a bubble wild card," 1 Aug. 2020 Throughout the debate, a key question has been whether pressure to change the name arose from political correctness run amok. Washington Post, "Corporate money, Black Lives Matter protests and elites’ opinion drove Redskins name change," 13 July 2020 Kavanaugh sided with Roberts and those four liberals in declaring a New York City gun restriction moot, rather than striking it down as an example of gun control rules run amok. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court's mix of liberal, conservative rulings shows influence of a powerful chief justice," 10 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'amok.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of amok

Noun

1665, in the meaning defined above

Adverb

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective

1944, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for amok

Noun

borrowed from Malay amok

Adverb

derivative of amok entry 1

Adjective

derivative of amok entry 1

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Last Updated

3 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Amok.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amok. Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for amok

amok

adverb
variants: or amuck \ ə-​ˈmək , -​ˈmäk \

Kids Definition of amok

: in a wild or uncontrolled manner
Hint: This adverb is usually used in the phrase “run amok” or “run amuck.”

amok

noun
\ ə-ˈmək How to pronounce amok (audio) , -ˈmäk How to pronounce amok (audio) \
variants: also amuck \ -​ˈmək How to pronounce amuck (audio) \

Medical Definition of amok

: an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malaysian culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior occurring worldwide in numerous countries and cultures Amok is a condition in South Asian and Pacific Islander cultures when a person attacks and tries to kill others.— Christopher A. Kearney and Timothy J. Trull, Abnormal Psychology and Life, 2011 … research suggests that amok can and does occur in other countries, such as Laos, the Philippines, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, and even the United States. Certain acts of random violence (e.g., school shootings and office shootings) may actually be presentations of an American version of amok. — Michael Gomez, in Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology, 2006

Other Words from amok

amok also amuck adjective or adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on amok

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for amok

Nglish: Translation of amok for Spanish Speakers

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