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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Progressives argue that middle-class anomie is located in economics, the class stagnation since industrial America started closing down in the 1970s, but that seems insufficient. Joe Klein, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2023 Obviously the stories about the anomie of slave family life are correct, as ethnic cohesion and family integrity were rapidly destroyed in the New World. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 16 Dec. 2011 Some observers are tempted to put it down to a pathology in which the combination of post-Brexit psychosis and post-pandemic anomie has sapped all reason and purpose from those who govern. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 24 Oct. 2022 His tough-yet-sensitive image feels substantive, and not just a kind of bland, Post Malone-like anomie. Mosi Reeves, Rolling Stone, 12 Aug. 2022 In their parallel stories, the Black intellectual’s crisis of faith meets the guilty anomie of the American expatriate. The New Yorker, 4 July 2022 To have seen so early in his career the anomie at the heart of boredom, stasis, inertia—what a gift that was. Vivian Gornick, The Atlantic, 16 May 2022 This doesn’t accord with the stereotype of the Lost Generation, its members drinking away their anomie in Parisian cafés. Deborah Cohen, The Atlantic, 8 Mar. 2022 Those two novels plus Hemingway’s memoir of Lost Generation–era Paris, A Moveable Feast, offer a better window into the horror of the Great War and the anomie and decadence of the Twenties than anything in Gatsby. Sarah Schutte, National Review, 6 Sep. 2021 See More

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

Word History


French anomie, from Middle French, from Greek anomia lawlessness, from anomos lawless, from a- + nomos law, from nemein to distribute — more at nimble

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 6 Feb. 2023.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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