an·​o·​mie ˈa-nə-mē How to pronounce anomie (audio)
variants or less commonly anomy
: social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values
The reforms of a ruined economy, under these conditions, brought about social anomie, desperation and poverty rather than relief and prosperity.T. Mastnak
also : personal unrest, alienation, and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals
In the face of these prevailing values, many workers experience a kind of anomie. Their jobs become empty, meaningless, and intrinsically unsatisfying. Robert Straus
anomic adjective

Examples of anomie in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Durkheim argued that anomie was a major driver of suicide rates in European countries. Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, 13 Mar. 2024 But China’s anomie is also a crisis of national identity. Rana Mitter, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 China’s sense of anomie is also sociological, however, especially for young people. Rana Mitter, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Doing so would speed up completion and reduce the cost of college, help combat anomie, better prepare students for the vicissitudes of college and life, and leave less time for performative jackassery. Frederick M. Hess, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for anomie 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anomie.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French anomie, borrowed from Greek anomía "lawlessness," from ánomos "lawless, unlawful, without laws" (from a- a- entry 2 + -nomos, adjective derivative of nómos "custom, convention, law," noun derivative of némein "to pasture [animals], rule, direct, distribute, apportion") + -ia -y entry 2 — more at nimble

Note: As a philosophical and sociological term French anomie was introduced by the philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau (1854-88) in Esquisse d'une morale sans obligation ni sanction (Paris, 1885), p. 230: "C'est l'absence de loi fixe, qu'on peut désigner sous le terme d'anomie pour l'opposer à l'autonomie des Kantiens." ("It is the absence of fixed law, which can fall under the term anomie in order to oppose it to the autonomy of the Kantians [followers of Immanuel kant].") The term later became closely associated with the French sociologist Émile durkheim, who used it in De la division du travail social (1893) and Le suicide (1897).

First Known Use

1933, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anomie was in 1933

Dictionary Entries Near anomie

Cite this Entry

“Anomie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


variants also anomy
: social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values
also : personal unrest, alienation, and anxiety that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals

More from Merriam-Webster on anomie

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