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run amok

Also, run riot or wild. Behave in a frenzied, out-of-control, or unrestrained manner. For example, I was afraid that if I left the toddler alone she would run amok and have a hard time calming down, or The weeds are running riot in the lawn, or The children were running wild in the playground. Amok comes from a Malay word for “frenzied” and was adopted into English, and at first spelled amuck, in the second half of the 1600s. Run riot dates from the early 1500s and derives from an earlier sense, that is, a hound's following an animal scent. Run wild alludes to an animal reverting to its natural, uncultivated state; its figurative use dates from the late 1700s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Examples from the Web for run amok
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  • This horrid stuff gives the maddening excitement which makes a Malay run amok (which see).

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • That three hundred pounds was composed of too much muscle and too little fat for Sam Bending to allow it to run amok.

    Damned If You Don't Gordon Randall Garrett
  • He would, in fact, run amok; for it looked as if there could be no way out of the situation.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • If you run amok in Malaya, you may kill your enemy or your dearest friend, but you will be krissed in the end like a pariah dog.

    Tales of the Malayan Coast Rounsevelle Wildman
  • I was simply a Dutchman that had got riled and had run amok.

    Greenmantle John Buchan

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