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[an-er-kee] /ˈæn ər ki/
a state of society without government or law.
political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control:
The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
anarchism (def 1).
lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination:
the anarchy of his rebellious teenage years.
confusion and disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.
It was impossible to find the book I was looking for in the anarchy of his bookshelves.
Origin of anarchy
1530-40; (< Middle French anarchie or Medieval Latin anarchia) < Greek, anarchía lawlessness, literally, lack of a leader, equivalent to ánarch(os) leaderless (an- an-1 + arch(ós) leader + -os adj. suffix) + -ia -y3
Related forms
hyperanarchy, noun
proanarchy, adjective
Can be confused
anarchism, anarchy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for anarchy
  • If we are not frightened of such anarchy, we do not need the controlling authority.
  • The Internet may be the most successful example of anarchy ever known.
  • You can call this anarchy or civil disobedience, depending on whose side you're on.
  • This, in and of itself, would spawn regional warfare and promote anarchy.
  • Lawyers, of all people, should agree that law and order are preferable to anarchy.
  • But the vitality of the collection is conspicuous even when its anarchy causes some impatience.
  • Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
  • Even after his release, the downward trajectory of his life continues, while the country itself plunges toward anarchy.
  • Privatization of government agencies reflects both the one-way dynamic of capitalism and its true inherent anarchy.
  • But in the period of anarchy, the culture changed.
British Dictionary definitions for anarchy


general lawlessness and disorder, esp when thought to result from an absence or failure of government
the absence or lack of government
the absence of any guiding or uniting principle; disorder; chaos
the theory or practice of political anarchism
Derived Forms
anarchic (ænˈɑːkɪk), anarchical, adjective
anarchically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek anarkhia, from anarkhos without a ruler, from an- + arkh- leader, from arkhein to rule
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for anarchy

1530s, from French anarchie or directly from Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek anarkhia "lack of a leader, the state of people without a government" (in Athens, used of the Year of Thirty Tyrants, 404 B.C., when there was no archon), noun of state from anarkhos "rulerless," from an- "without" (see an- (1)) + arkhos "leader" (see archon).

Either the State for ever, crushing individual and local life, taking over in all fields of human activity, bringing with it its wars and its domestic struggles for power, its palace revolutions which only replace one tyrant by another, and inevitably at the end of this development there is ... death! Or the destruction of States, and new life starting again in thousands of centers on the principle of the lively initiative of the individual and groups and that of free agreement. The choice lies with you! [Prince Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921)]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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