Word of the Day – Amok


1 : in a violently raging, wild, or uncontrolled manner
2 : in a murderously frenzied state

Did You Know?

Print evidence of amok in English was first recorded in the 1600s, when the word was used as a noun meaning “murderous frenzy.” Visitors to Southeast Asia had reported witnessing the suffering and effects of a psychiatric disorder known in Malay as amok. Typically, the afflicted person (usually a man) attacked bystanders in a frenzy, killing everyone in sight until he collapsed or was himself killed. By the end of 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 adverb, in time, has mitigated its violent nature; it usually describes the actions of the unruly and not the murderous.


“Legitimate software can also run amok if it’s not coded to play nicely with others.” — Rob Pegoraro, USA Today, 27 Nov. 2020

“Staffing in the hospital is increasingly challenging as the virus runs amok in our surrounding area.” — Kevin Sellheim, The Sleepy Eye (Minnesota) Herald-Dispatch, 19 Nov. 2020

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