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

  • n. Social instability caused by erosion of standards and values.
  • n. Alienation and purposelessness experienced by a person or a class as a result of a lack of standards, values, or ideals: "We must now brace ourselves for disquisitions on peer pressure, adolescent anomie and rage” ( Charles Krauthammer).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alienation or social instability caused by erosion of standards and values.

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

  • n. personal state of isolation and anxiety resulting from a lack of social control and regulation
  • n. lack of moral standards in a society


French, from Greek anomiā, lawlessness, from anomos, lawless : a-, without; see a-1 + nomos, law; see nem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French anomie, from Ancient Greek ἀνομία (anomia, "lawlessness"), from ἄνομος (anomos, "lawless"), from ἀ- (a-, "not") + νόμος (nomos, "law") (Wiktionary)


  • But in sociology, we use the term anomie, the sense of normlessness that comes just like the spiraling down.

    CNN Transcript Dec 29, 2008

  • When it came to alienation, or what he preferred to call anomie, Durkheim was convinced that such shiftlessness—moral isolation, in effect—was caused by an absence of conventions and a rejection of the society that instituted them.


  • This unnatural, inorganic, materialistic way of living, coupled with a marked decline in society's moral and ethical standards -- what the French call anomie -- has created a kind of pathology that produces pain and emptiness, for which addictive behavior becomes the primary symptom and consumption the preferred drug of choice.

    Archive 2008-04-13

  • Leyburn points out that since the Scotch-Irish were never a "minority," in the sense that their values differed radically from the norms of their areas of settlement, they never suffered the normlessness which Durkheim calls anomie -- the absence of clear standards to follow.

    The Fair Play Settlers of the West Branch Valley, 1769-1784 A Study of Frontier Ethnography

  • In his theory of suicide, he highlights the situation of "anomie" to refer to the circumstance of individuals whose relationship to the social whole is weak, and he explains differences in suicide rates across societies as the result of different levels of solidarity and its opposite, anomie.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • If "anomie" exists in Greece today, it is found in the separation between law and democracy and the destruction of any sense of the common good.

    The Guardian World News

  • What the minister, in his ignorance and desperation, called "anomie", political and legal theory examines under the term "civil disobedience".

    The Guardian World News

  • Disobedience is a moral and civic response to governmental "anomie".

    The Guardian World News

  • Cloward also influenced the concept of "anomie" (meaning social instability caused by erosion of standards and values; alienation and purposelessness experienced by a person or a class as a result of a lack of standards, values, or ideals).

    ChronWatch - Articles

  • If you google the term 'anomie' you will find a lot of jargon-laden articles whose purpose seems to be to make excuses for bad behavior or alcohol and drug abuse among certain populations, based on what happened to their ancestors several generations ago.

    Vanishing American


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  • "Now if there is one circumstance indisputably involved in the etiology of depression, it is precisely this sense of isolation or, to use the term adopted by Durkheim in his late-nineteenth-century study of suicide: anomie. Durkheim used it to explain the rising rates of suicide in nineteenth-century Europe; epidemiologists invoke it to help account for the increasing prevalence of depression in our own time."
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