In this Adventure we’re looking into the origins of the words amok and havoc. It’s a double bill this week as I had a break for Christmas last week.
Amok [əˈmɒk/əˈmʌk] means:
- Out of control, especially when armed and dangerous.
- In a frenzy of violence, or on a killing spree; berserk.
It usually appears in the phrase to run amok, which means to go on a rampage, to be in an uncontrollable rage, to go beserk, to go postal or to wreak havoc [source].
Amok comes from the Portuguese amouco (amok), from the Malay amuk (to go on a killing spree, to run amok), from the Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *hamuk. The Tagalog word hamok (fierce fighting, brawl) and the Māori word amo (to charge, attack) come from the same roots [source].
Other English words derived from Malay include bamboo, camphor, cassowary, cockatoo, compound (as in an enclousure), gecko, gingham, gong and orangutan [source].
The word havoc [ˈhævək] means:
- Widespread devastation and destruction, mayhem
- to pillage, cause havoc
It comes from the Middle English havok (plunder, pillage), from the Old French havok, from havot (pillaging, looting) [source].
In Middle English it was used in the phrases crien havok (to give the signal for general plundering, and maken havok (to plunder thoroughly and indscriminately) [source]. The phrase, to cry havoc (to give an army the order to plunder) was and possibly still is used in modern English [source].
Here’s a video I made of this information:
Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].
I chose these words because I spent Christmas with my family (see below), including my niece and nephews, who are all under 10. While they didn’t exactly run amok or wreak havoc, a house full of young children can be a bit chaotic.