amok

noun
\ ə-ˈmək How to pronounce amok (audio) , -ˈmäk How to pronounce amok (audio) \
variants: or less commonly \ ə-​ˈmək How to pronounce amok (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 amok rioters running amok in the streetsConditions had allowed extremism to run amok.
2 : in a murderously frenzied state

amok

adjective
variants: or less commonly amuck

Definition of amok (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Credit cards had been issued, ringing up big-ticket purchases that sounded like a game-show shopping spree run amok. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Oct. 2021 Kidding aside, the revelations from the New York Times’ Ben Smith, who broke the story of hype run amok, have had major consequences for Ozy and its employees. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 Others saw them as evidence of cancel culture run amok. New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021 But more than a decade later, Spotlight editor Gerard O’Neill received a tip: The disability pension system, a source said, had run amok all over again. BostonGlobe.com, 22 Sep. 2021 Virtually every park stocks up on fog machines, noisy chainsaws and buckets of gore, hires actors to run amok as brain-thirsty zombies and other creatures and rolls out the blood-red carpet for visitors seeking chills and screams. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2021 Seeking equity in education has been touted as critical race theory run amok, even as no one can point to a school system actually teaching critical race theory. Washington Post, 27 July 2021 In response to this light reprimand, Republican politicians have simply lost their minds, issuing garbled statements about cancel culture and corporations run amok, and promising retribution against their political frenemies. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 5 Apr. 2021 The commenters hinted of dark motives, of Big Government run amok and the loss of our constitutional liberties. oregonlive, 17 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Wyatt Russell has been terrific as this avatar of male insecurity run wildly amok, but the script isn’t always doing him favors. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 16 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About amok

Listen to Our Podcast About amok

Dictionary Entries Near amok

amoeboid

amok

amoldering

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for amok

Cite this Entry

“Amok.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amok. Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 amok (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

Nglish: Translation of amok for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!