[ an-er-kee ]
See synonyms for anarchy on
  1. a state of society without government or law.

  2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.

  1. lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination: the anarchy of his rebellious teenage years.

  2. 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

First recorded in 1530–40; from Middle French anarchie or Medieval Latin anarchia or directly from Greek anarchía “lawlessness,” literally, “lack of a leader,” equivalent to ánarch(os) “leaderless” (an- “without, lacking” + arch(ós) “leader” + -os adjective suffix) + -ia noun suffix; see an-1, -y3

Other words for anarchy

Other words from anarchy

  • hy·per·an·ar·chy, noun
  • pro·an·ar·chy, adjective

Words that may be confused with anarchy

Words Nearby anarchy Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use anarchy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for anarchy


/ (ˈænəkɪ) /

  1. general lawlessness and disorder, esp when thought to result from an absence or failure of government

  2. the absence or lack of government

  1. the absence of any guiding or uniting principle; disorder; chaos

  2. the theory or practice of political anarchism

Origin of anarchy

C16: from Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek anarkhia, from anarkhos without a ruler, from an- + arkh- leader, from arkhein to rule

Derived forms of anarchy

  • anarchic (ænˈɑːkɪk) or anarchical, adjective
  • anarchically, adverb

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