Kafkaesque

adjective

Kaf·​ka·​esque ˌkäf-kə-ˈesk How to pronounce Kafkaesque (audio) ˌkaf- How to pronounce Kafkaesque (audio)
: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings
especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality
Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays

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Kafkaesque Literature

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a Czech-born German-language writer whose surreal fiction vividly expressed the anxiety, alienation, and powerlessness of the individual in the 20th century. Kafka's work is characterized by nightmarish settings in which characters are crushed by nonsensical, blind authority. Thus, the word Kafkaesque is often applied to bizarre and impersonal administrative situations where the individual feels powerless to understand or control what is happening.

Word History

First Known Use

1939, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Kafkaesque was in 1939

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Cite this Entry

“Kafkaesque.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Kafkaesque. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

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