• synonyms


[ 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.
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.


WROLRead more in this article about some frequently asked questions and fun facts related to our definitions.


turmoil, riot, confusion, hostility, chaos, rebellion, unrest, nihilism, disorder, disregard, misrule, revolution, disorganization

Nearby words

anarchism, anarchist, anarchistic, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-syndicalist, anarchy, anarithmia, anarthria, anarthrous, anasarca, anasazi

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 formshy·per·an·ar·chy, nounpro·an·ar·chy, adjective
Can be confusedanarchism anarchy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for anarchy

British Dictionary definitions for anarchy


/ (ˈænəkɪ) /


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 Formsanarchic (ænˈɑːkɪk) or anarchical, adjectiveanarchically, adverb

Word Origin for anarchy

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

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