Printable Version
Pronunciation: an-ahr-kee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. The absence of government, political authority. 2. Chaos, disorder, the absence of any guiding principle(s).

Notes: This word has a different meaning to some people (anarchists), who think the absence of political order is a good thing. Nations would by nature form stable communities that would voluntarily cooperate among themselves (anarchism). The adjectives accompanying anarchy are anarchal and anarchic(al). The verb is anarchize.

In Play: Anarchy most generally applies to politics: "The general strike in Russia rapidly degenerated into anarchy when the Tsar abdicated, and the interim government could not restore order." But it may be used in any situation where the order breaks down: "When mom's not here, the house falls into complete anarchy."

Word History: English again borrowed this word from French anarchie, inherited from Latin anarchia, a word borrowed from Greek anarkhia "lack of a leader", comprised of an "no, without" + arkh(on) "leader" + -ia, an abstract noun suffix. This word was built on archon "chief, ruler", the personal noun from arkhein "to be first, lead, command". Where arkhein came from is a mystery. The Latin version survived as a prefix in most western Indo-European languages in the sense of "chief, principal", in such words as archenemy, archangel, and archbishop. The other arch "an upper bow" came from Old French arche, the French redesign of Latin arcus "curved, arch shaped". (Wordmaster William Hupy has earned yet another note of recognition for suggesting we run today's most timely Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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