amok

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

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

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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: Noun

Metu’s time running amok for the Spurs at Summer League appears done. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Metu’s misfortune means missed opportunity for Spurs’ second-rounder," 12 July 2018 Determining whether my emotions are realistic or a sign of my mind running amok helps me respond appropriately. Meryl Davids Landau, Good Housekeeping, "3 Women Share the Moment They Knew They Had Depression — And How They Moved Forward," 12 June 2018 Elsewhere around the country, run-amok tax-cutting for the wealthy business elite — in other state capitals and most recently in Washington — have benefited hedge-fund managers and the barons of private equity. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Stephen Schwarzman's billionaire lottery won't save public schools. But Oklahoma might | Will Bunch," 8 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

And soon Elizabeth starts doing weird things with rocks, a touch of mysticism that just looks like writerly quirk run amok. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Big Little Lies season 2 is brilliantly acted and all over the place: EW review," 5 June 2019 The two women have previously been accused of having beef with each other: tabloids ran amok after Chopra was absent from Meghan's New York baby shower and again when the Duchess didn't attend Chopra's elaborate wedding to Nick Jonas. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Priyanka Chopra: Duchess Meghan is the same 'authentic' person she was before meeting Prince Harry," 1 June 2019 Private and intimate classes offer hands-on lessons in fusing banana leaves, a Cambodian or Khmer staple, into flavorful, aromatic dishes like amok and spring rolls with palm sugar dipping sauce. Marissa Miller, Teen Vogue, "13 Dream Vacations to Add to Your Bucket List," 24 Oct. 2018 But Washington Road still maintains that distinctly American feel of urban sprawl run amok. Paul Newberry, The Seattle Times, "Outside Masters, Washington Road bustles in its tacky glory," 13 Apr. 2019 Photo: istock/getty images A conservative critic might view the Middlebury incident last year as an instance of liberal political correctness run amok—but this neglects the crucial question of motivation. WSJ, "Notable & Quotable: The Paradox of ‘Privilege’," 28 Mar. 2018 But then again, the ambitious, blank-canvas projects—the places where engineers run amok—never end up being for the masses. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "Pride of the Valkyries," 29 Jan. 2019 The 17 murders in the Parkland high school were, as Mr. Pollack says, a result of political correctness run amok. WSJ, "A Parkland, Fla., Father’s Lonely Crusade," 18 Jan. 2019 For whatever reason, the legal eagles at the Disney/Lucasfilm trust have stood back and let custom saber makers run amok. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Hands-on with a $434 replica lightsaber: May the dork be with you," 25 Dec. 2018

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, Adverb, and Adjective

Malay amok

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Dictionary Entries near amok

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Amoebogeniae

amoeboid

amok

amoldering

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Amomis

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Time Traveler for amok

The first known use of amok was in 1665

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on amok

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with amok

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for amok

Spanish Central: Translation of amok

Nglish: Translation of amok for Spanish Speakers

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