1 : in a murderously frenzied state
2 a : in a violently raging manner
b : in an undisciplined, uncontrolled, or faulty manner
Did You Know?
"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.
Test Your Memory: Our featured word on September 17 was "farrago." It means ...
"We simply can’t have children running amok all over the school,” said the principal when asked to explain the school’s hallway pass policy.
"Massing in moonlight, legions of critters swarm across back roads and run amok through the countryside. Vegetable gardens disappear overnight. Lawns and crops are destroyed. It's the attack of the voles. And they could be coming to a backyard near you." -- From an article by Debbie Arrington in the Sacramento Bee, August 21, 2010
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