Regarding the Star Trek episode “Amok Time”, I always assumed “Amok” was a fictional sci-fi word, but then I realized it’s spelled the same as “to run amok”. Is there an intentional connection there, as in “it’s time to run amok”?

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    Your answer seems to be provoking people to explain what the word "amok" means.
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 17:25
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    @O.R.Mapper - except that the question explicitly states that they do know what the meaning of the word is.
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 18:29
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    @Valorum: If that were the case, the connection between the word and the episode seems obvious. Which is why so far 3 out of 4 answers explain that connection by referring to the definition of the word. Dec 17, 2020 at 18:32
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    @Valorum: To be clear: I understand this question as: "Is the term 'amok', used in the episode title 'Amok Time', a made-up sci-fi word that just happens to coincide with the actual loanword 'amok', found in 'to run amok', or is the word in the episode title actually an occurrence of said loanword?" How can this question be answered? By checking the meaning of the loanword "amok", as presented by commonly accepted sources (i.e. dictionaries). If that meaning matches with what is shown in the episode, we can conclude that the term in the title is indeed meant to be that very loanword, ... Dec 17, 2020 at 21:12
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    @O.R.Mapper - Sure, but merely defining the word doesn't do anything to a) prove that it's what the writers intended and b) I think we can do a hell of a lot better than just providing the dictionary definition of the word "Amok".
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 21:18

4 Answers 4


According to Merriam Webster, one of the definitions of "amok" as an adverb is:

  1. in a murderously frenzied state

and as an adjective, it is described as

possessed with or motivated by a murderous or violently uncontrollable frenzy

Collins categorizes the word as a noun described as

  1. a state of murderous frenzy, originally observed among Malays

And Dictionary.com provides the noun definition

(among members of certain Southeast Asian cultures) a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder.

This describes Spock's out-of-control state which, at the climax of the episode, turns into some kind of a violent bloodlust.

Therefore: Yes, I'd say there is an "intentional connection" - the episode title "Amok Time" simply uses the English term "amok" to literally describe Spock's behaviour in the episode.


Yes, it is a reference to Pon Farr being a time when Vulcans become amok, i.e.

in a violently raging, wild, or uncontrolled manner[1]


The title appears to be a reference to an earlier script written by Herschel Daugherty for the episode Operation - - Annihilate!

In the original script (which forms the basis of James Blish's novelisation of the episode) Spock is accused of "running amok" by Kirk. Although the line was ultimately removed from the shooting script, it appears to have stuck in Roddenberry's mind and was used as the title of the subsequent episode.

“Sir, I would prefer to bear it just a little while longer. The final test of the theory is what happens to me-or does not happen-when that nucleus is destroyed. If the pain continues, we will know that we were wrong.”

“Without prejudice to your own wishes or your will power, Mr. Spock, are you certain that there’s no danger of your running amok again?”

“The danger exists,” Spock said levelly. “However, I am fighting it. And I do not see how we can forfeit this test.”

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    Wait, so your answer seems to be about a different episode. Do these 2 episode have a connection? What am I missing?
    – RedCaio
    Dec 16, 2020 at 23:55
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    @RedCaio - The connection is that there was a line in the previous episode about Spock 'running amok' when he lost emotional control. Roddenberry was directly involved in writing (or at least editing) both episodes. They were also written back-to-back with both intended for inclusion in the latter part of season 1
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 0:31
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    This answer reads like a random guess and is, IMHO, rather far-fetched. Whoever came up with the episode name "Amok Time" could have learned about the term "amok" from all kinds of sources - basically, any media containing the term published by the year the episode was made in - and this answer contains no evidence it was this script among all possible options that gave the writer the decisive idea. Dec 17, 2020 at 18:35
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    @Valorum: No, why in the world should that have any relevance? It seems likely quite some of the other words from the first script (such as "sir", "I", "would", "prefer", ...) turned up in the very next script, as well. The assumption they turned up because the writer remembered them from the previous episode, not because they simply are English words that fit in the given context, seems rather outlandish to me. Dec 17, 2020 at 18:47
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    one thing to remember is that scripts in TOS era came from ideas internal to the team that were then farmed out to sci-fi writers - so, as Valorum states @O.R.Mapper - Roddenberry came up w/ the idea (and it was worked on as well by Coon and Fontana) title and then farmed the script out to Ted Sturgeon for actual writing. Amok Time was originally meant to be written and produced during S1 but Sturgeon was slow. Thus - it wasn't written or ideated after "Operation: Annihilate" - in fact, Amok Time was started prior to "O:A"! so the 'amok' in that script may come from Amok Time!....
    – NKCampbell
    Dec 17, 2020 at 19:07

As mentioned above, there is such word in Malay.

From my knowledge, this word became well-known from a story by Stefan Zweig. The story basically describes an amok run.


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