what does amok mean

How To Define The Word “Amok” for Runners? Keep Reading

Perhaps you are not only an avid runner, but also an avid literary scholar who loves reading and discovering new words all of the time. More specifically, you might be interested in exploring and finding words pertaining to running, for it combines both of your passions into a single, big one.

From words like “athleticism” to “orthotics,” you are always fascinated with the subtleties of the English language, especially when it comes to being active and sportive.

That being said, you have come across the term “amok,” and you might find it unfamiliar to you. Despite its rather elusive definition, you do not have to worry about knowing exactly what does amok mean. In fact, we are here to help you discover just what it means precisely, as well as how it pertains to your number-one love for running. Read on to learn more, and perhaps be enlightened!

Without further ado, let’s begin!


1. What does “amok” mean?

A distinctive and interesting term, “amok” is, as defined: “a murderous frenzy that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malaysian culture.” In other words, it refers to a crazy, exciting circumstance that may or may not have a positive or negative connotation, particularly in the case of being deadly.

The word “amok” can be used as both a noun and as an adjective, which of course makes it a rather versatile term to use for many occasions.

2. What are its definition origins?

Like any word in the English dictionary, “amok” has a historical origin in being developed and used by people during the modern times.

While it is an English word, “amok” actually has its origins from Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, back in the mid-1600s. Back then, English speakers who visited the country noticed the psychotic disorder of some Malay men who would attack and kill people in their way, before killing themselves out of spite (or someone else kills them).

More specifically, the word “amok” can mean a mass assault against others by one person, who then goes through a period of brooding and regret afterwards. While commonly identified in Malaysian culture, this action can also be found in other parts of the world, including Laos, the Philippines, and even the United States.

Although it has its roots in traditional culture, the actions from “amok” were viewed as psychopathological between the 17th to 20th centuries, as a form of a mental disorder that showed serious deterioration of the human mind. Today, “amok” has taken on a social perspective, referring more to the social trends and events which might not have a basis in psychological or murderous intentions.

That said, “amok” was adopted into the English language, and by the end of the 17th century, English speakers started using the word to refer to a wild, frenzy state, which may or may not necessarily be murderous, but rather can refer to a chaotic, confused one that causes disorder in society.

3. What are some examples to use with this word?

Aside from its literal context, the word “amok” can be used to refer to moments that take on an intense frenzy as is defined. For instance, you can use this term to describe a wild, raucous party or a massive, violent street protest. In essence, “amok” fares well in contexts which present a disorderly state, with no promises of it calming down or becoming organized. In that sense, the word carries with it a negative connotation.

Here is a list of some possible ways in which you can use the word “amok:”

1. “Briefly, where a man of another race might not improbably commit suicide, a Malay runs amok, killing all whom he may meet until he himself is slain.” (Taken from your.dictionary)

2. “He was running amok through the alley as his neighbor's vicious bulldog chased after him.” (Taken from Yahoo Answers)

3. “When you bring your children to a nice restaurant, they shouldn't be allowed to run amok and cause chaos.” (Taken from Yahoo Answers)

4. “But surely- ' `And all the evidence suggests his appearance allowed a demon to run amok.” – Susan Howatch (Taken from Collins Dictionary)

5. “Now, he had visions of somebody running amok through the town with a gun.” – Stuart Harrison (Taken from Collins Dictionary)

4. How does it relate to the expression “running amok?”

Besides having the sole word “amok,” there is also the common expression “running amok,” or “to run amok.” Essentially speaking, the expressions’ definition is not too different from that of the word itself, and rather it is describing the action of it. In other words, “running amok” demonstrates the course of events that leads up to the crazy, frenzied state.

Perhaps you might be wondering if this expression has any relation to the sport of running itself, and we would have to say that, generally speaking, it does not really relate to it.

The reason is that the expression can refer to other instances besides running; it is not all-inclusive of the sport itself. As previously mentioned, “running amok” can be used in examples such as wild parties or violent protests, and thereby not just to run.

However, this is not to say that “running amok” has no relation to the sport at all. In fact, you can make an argument that the intense, disorderly atmosphere during racing competitions or the effort to run away (or “escape”) from something terrifying link the action of running to the expression itself.


All in all, “amok” is a very interesting word that has a distinctive and fascinating, lexiconic past. What makes this term even more curious is that it can be used as both a noun and as an adjective, as well as turned into an expression such as “running amok.” Granted, it is not easy to pinpoint its relation to the actual sport of running itself, but by using your imagination and creativity, good things will arise in your passions.

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