Definition of AMOK

AMOK Adverb and (less common) Adjective

Amok is an adverb and sometimes used as an adjective, describing behavior that is wild, uncontrolled, or frenzied.

AMOK as an adverb

As an adverb, amok refers to actions or behaviors that are wildly out of control. For example, “The children ran amok in the playground,” means that the children were running around in a wild and disorderly manner.

Historical and Cultural Context: The term amok has its roots in Malay culture, where it originally referred to a specific type of frenzied attack. It was historically used to describe a state of mind where someone would become uncontrollably violent. For instance, “He went amok after hearing the news,” reflects this traditional usage.

Modern Usage: In modern contexts, amok is often used to describe any situation where chaos and disorder prevail. For example, “When the sale started, shoppers went amok, grabbing items off the shelves,” illustrates its contemporary application.

Psychological Aspect: The term amok has also been used in psychology to describe a sudden outburst of violent behavior, usually in a person who was previously not known to be violent. This use is rare and more historical, but it underscores the intense and uncontrollable nature of actions described as amok.

AMOK as an adjective

Although less common, amok can be used as an adjective to describe a state or condition characterized by chaos or wild behavior. For example, “The situation was amok with confusion,” uses the term to describe a chaotic state.

Idiomatic Expression: The phrase “run amok” is an idiomatic expression widely used to describe someone acting in a wild or uncontrolled manner. For example, “After the final bell, students ran amok through the hallways,” indicates a scene of disorderly behavior.

Negative Connotations: The use of amok often carries a negative connotation, implying that the behavior is not only chaotic but also potentially harmful or destructive. For instance, “The project ran amok due to poor planning,” suggests that the project encountered significant problems.

Literary Usage: In literature, amok can be used to evoke a vivid image of uncontrollable chaos or frenzy. Authors might use it to describe scenes of riotous behavior or extreme disorganization. For example, “The festival turned into a night of amok celebration,” paints a picture of wild and unrestrained festivities.

In conclusion, amok serves primarily as an adverb to describe actions that are wildly uncontrolled or frenzied. Its historical roots add depth to its meaning, and its modern usage spans various contexts where chaos and disorder are prevalent. Occasionally used as an adjective, amok consistently conveys a sense of wild, uncontrolled behavior.

Examples of AMOK in a sentence

AMOK as an adverb in a sentence

  • The dog ran amok through the park, chasing anything in its path.
  • After losing his job, he spent his days wandering amok.
  • The virus spread amok throughout the population, overwhelming hospitals.
  • The children played amok in the playground, laughing and shouting.
  • She searched amok for her lost keys, turning the house upside down.
  • The storm raged amok outside, shaking the windows with its fury.
  • The protestors marched amok through the streets, demanding justice.
  • The wildfire spread amok across the countryside, consuming everything in its wake.

AMOK as an adjective in a sentence

  • The city was in chaos due to the amok gunman.
  • They had to evacuate the building because of an amok fire alarm.
  • The amok driver caused multiple accidents on the highway.
  • His behavior at the party was amok and disruptive.
  • The company’s finances were thrown into disarray by an amok accounting error.
  • The neighborhood was on edge after reports of an amok animal roaming the streets.
  • The situation escalated quickly when one protester went amok.
  • The office was in turmoil because of an amok rumor spreading among employees.

Origin of AMOK

The term amok has its etymological origins rooted in the Malay language, specifically the word “amuk.”

  • Malay Origins: “Amok” originates from the Malay word “amuk,” which refers to a state of frenzied or berserk behavior. In Malay culture, “amuk” describes a sudden and uncontrollable outburst of violent or homicidal rage.
  • Historical Usage: The term “amok” gained recognition in English during the colonial period, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, as European explorers and traders encountered Malay culture and language. The concept of “amok” fascinated Western observers, leading to its adoption into the English language.
  • Semantic Evolution: In English, “amok” retains its original meaning of a violent or frenzied rampage but has also expanded to describe any reckless or uncontrolled behavior. It is often used figuratively to denote chaotic or disorderly conduct.
  • Contemporary Usage: In modern English, “amok” is primarily used in phrases such as “run amok” or “go amok” to describe instances of sudden, wild, or uncontrolled behavior. It is employed in various contexts, including psychology, sociology, and literature, to depict states of emotional turmoil or social unrest.

From its origins in Malay culture to its adoption into the English language, the term amok embodies the concept of frenzied or berserk behavior, reflecting the cultural exchanges and linguistic borrowings that occur between different societies.


  • Berserk
  • Out of control
  • Rampaging
  • Unrestrained
  • Wildly
  • Frantic
  • Chaotic
  • Frenzied


  • Calm
  • Controlled
  • Restrained
  • Composed
  • Peaceful
  • Serene
  • Tranquil
  • Ordered


  • Running riot
  • On a rampage
  • Unhinged
  • Uncontrolled
  • Maniacal
  • Rioting
  • Disorderly
  • Unbridled

🌐 🇬🇧 AMOK in other languages

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