anarchy

play
noun an·ar·chy \ˈa-nər-kē, -ˌnär-\

Definition of anarchy

  1. 1a :  absence of governmentb :  a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority the city's descent into anarchyc :  a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

  2. 2a :  absence or denial of any authority or established order anarchy prevailed in the ghettob :  absence of order :  disorder not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature — Israel Shenker

  3. 3 :  anarchism

Examples of anarchy in a sentence

  1. Its immigration policies in the last five years have become the envy of those in the West who see in all but the most restrictive laws the specter of terrorism and social anarchy. —Caroline Moorehead, New York Review of Books, 16 Nov. 2006

  2. Fueled by booze and the euphoria of having seen their school win a share of its first … title in 36 years, a mob of Beavers fans hurled itself at the cops, breaching both chains and creating anarchy. —Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated, 27 Nov. 2000

  3. But by the early 1800s, the mines began to play out, and the colonists challenged the Spanish throne for independence. The Silver Cities survived not only the bloody revolution of 1821 but also the ensuing century of anarchy and bloodshed. —David Baird, Continental, February 1999

  4. The anarchy of the Internet may be daunting for the neophyte, but it differs little from the bibliographical chaos that is the result of five and a half centuries of the printing press. —Fred Lerner, The Story of Libraries, (1945) 1998

  5. Anarchy reigned in the empire's remote provinces.

  6. When the teacher was absent, there was anarchy in the classroom.

The Multiple Meanings of anarchy

Anarchy exemplifies how words may have similar yet distinctive meanings. The earliest recorded use of the word, from the early 16th century, meant simply “absence of government,” albeit with the implication of civil disorder. A similar but ameliorated meaning began to be employed in the 19th century in reference to a Utopian society that had no government. The establishment of these two senses of anarchy did not stop the word from being applied outside the realm of government with the broadened meaning ”a state of confusion or disorder.” The existence of definitions that are in semantic conflict does not imply that one (or more) of them is wrong; it simply shows that multisense words like anarchy mean different things in different contexts. Another example of a sense-shifting word relating to government is aristocracy. When first used in English, this word carried the sole meaning “government by the best individuals.” It may still be used in such a fashion, but more commonly, it is encountered in the extended sense “the aggregate of those believed to be superior.”

Origin and Etymology of anarchy

Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler — more at arch-


First Known Use: 1539


ANARCHY Defined for English Language Learners

anarchy

play
noun an·ar·chy \ˈa-nər-kē, -ˌnär-\

Definition of anarchy for English Language Learners

  • : a situation of confusion and wild behavior in which the people in a country, group, organization, etc., are not controlled by rules or laws



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