From the Arsenal for the Articulate: Anomie

Here’s a powerful word that gets across a sophisticated point in short order.  I came across it recently in a Charles Krauthammer piece in which he warned:

We must now brace ourselves for disquisitions* on peer pressure, adolescent anomie and rage.

Here’s my short course on anomie:

Anomie (ANN-uh-mee)

What it Means: Unrest or instability brought on by a breakdown of ethics, standards, and values.

How to Use It: “The anomie and anger of the German people after World War I gave rise to the fascist power-grab.”

About the Word: “Anomie” comes from a Greek word meaning “lawlessness,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean insurrection.   It’s an expressive and precise word because it conveys the idea of festering alienation that could gradually lead to a social breakdown; you can also use it to apply to uncertainty, purposeless, or aimlessness stemming from a lack of ideals.

*I covered disquisition in a previous post

Author: admin

Carl Hausman is Professor of Journalism at Rowan University, the author of several books about media, and a commentator about the role of media and ethics in civic life.

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