Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or relating to Franz Kafka or his writings.
  • adj. Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger: "Kafkaesque fantasies of the impassive interrogation, the false trial, the confiscated passport . . . haunt his innocence” ( New Yorker).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity.
  • adj. Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.
  • adj. In the manner of something written by Franz Kafka.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Frightening, threating, and bewildering in a vague and unexplicable way; -- of situations or regulations. Often used to describe illogical bureaucratic entanglements with no reasonable solution.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. relating to or in the manner of Franz Kafka or his writings
  • adj. characterized by surreal distortion and a sense of impending danger

Etymologies

From Kafka +‎ -esque, after writer Franz Kafka. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Who on Earth would think to teach their child the term Kafkaesque long before the boy will ever read Kaftka and when his field trips to the library are spent smearing his own pre-teen ejaculate on hardcover classics?

    Buzzine » Brooklyn Bound

  • Here, then, are some other adjectives which the legal community might consider adopting, where Kafkaesque is less than appropriate.

    2009 February : Law is Cool

  • Kafkaesque is a good term for trends in the United States today.

    Car registration and state income tax liability

  • Wehelie -- who says he was in Yemen because his mother sent him to learn Arabic and find a Muslim wife -- sees his experience as what could be described as a Kafkaesque ordeal in which he agonized for weeks over how to prove that he was no threat to his native land.

    U.S. citizen on no-fly list discusses being stranded in Egypt and talks with FBI

  • The story, invariably described as Kafkaesque by reviewers, involves an "expert" who is hired to catalog the contents of a crumbling museum whose name has been lost to time.

    ScrippsNews - current events, culture, commentary, community

  • The court has handed down judgment, not only in the Campbell application, but has also ruled in favour of 71-year-old Luke Tembani, one of Zimbabwe's first indigenous farmers, whose land -- which he has successfully farmed for the past 26 years -- is under threat in what Gauntlett calls a Kafkaesque scenario where the land bank continually recalculated wildly fluctuating interest on his bond, then attempted to seize the land in realisation of the bizarre debt without even bothering to go to court.

    Mail & Guardian Online

  • I've been caught in my own "Kafkaesque" FOIA experience after trying to request information about bus stop placement on Sherman Avenue.

    FOIA officer wasting time stonewalling request?

  • This is exactly the kind of Kafkaesque absurdity that the Bush administration was famous for, and the fact that it continues under Obama shows it is not part of an ideological jihad being waged by political appointees but an accepted practice among career employees.

    Through the Looking Glass With the DOJ

  • And if you want "Kafkaesque", try being a Jew in Iran (or see how long you'd live in Gaza).

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • FEMA arbitrarily denied thousands of vulnerable displaced families access to housing aid until a federal judge ruled against the agency last week, describing FEMA's system for delivering aid as "Kafkaesque", likening it to the writer's disturbing tales of horror.

    Jeffrey Buchanan: Where is US Leadership in New Orleans on Human Rights Day?

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