cha·os | \ ˈkā-ˌäs \

Definition of chaos 

1a : a state of utter confusion the blackout caused chaos throughout the city

b : a confused mass or mixture a chaos of television antennas

2a often capitalized : a state of things in which chance is supreme especially : the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms — compare cosmos

b : the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system (such as the atmosphere, boiling water, or the beating heart)

3 obsolete : chasm, abyss

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Other words from chaos

chaotic \kā-ˈä-tik \ adjective
chaotically \kā-ˈä-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Examples of chaos in a Sentence

The loss of electricity caused chaos throughout the city. When the police arrived, the street was in total chaos. The country had descended into economic chaos.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In a photo from her cover shoot for the July/August issue of Health Magazine, Busy Philipps poses angelically amongst the chaos often found in a home where young kids live. Olivia Harrison,, "Every Celeb Kid Is Strumming On This Quaint Fairytale Instrument, But Why?," 12 July 2018 And that’s without even mentioning the fact that forward Nikola Kalinic was sent home after refusing to come off the bench in the opener against Nigeria, or the chaos within the HNS. Jonathan Wilson,, "Croatia's Character, Resiliency on Full Display in Shocking Run to World Cup Final," 11 July 2018 When the chaos ended, the material left in the container was carbon-free, pure iron. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 The chaos started Friday, when the Haitian government announced its plan to raise prices on gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Amanda Erickson, Anchorage Daily News, "Unrest in Haiti leaves dozens of American church groups stranded and unable to leave," 9 July 2018 To those of us who follow politics closely, who feel the chaos Trump has brought to his office acutely, even a 42 percent approval rating seems ridiculously generous. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The messy reality of Donald Trump’s poll numbers," 5 July 2018 Amid the chaos, reporter Selene San Felice had the bearings to share the newsroom's street address. CBS News, "Journalists took to social media during -- and after -- deadly shooting in newsroom," 29 June 2018 This past week, the government scrambled to comply with a July 10 deadline to reunify children under age 5 — a process marked by confusion and chaos. Kristina Davis,, "Trump administration outlines plan to reunify remaining 2,500 separated children," 14 July 2018 Beyond the Areopagitica’s condemnation of censorship, Milton was really defending the underlying spiritual and intellectual chaos, and the institutions that nourished it. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chaos.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chaos

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for chaos

Latin, from Greek — more at gum

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Statistics for chaos

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for chaos

The first known use of chaos was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for chaos



English Language Learners Definition of chaos

: complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything

: the state of the universe before there was any order and before stars and planets were formed


cha·os | \ ˈkā-ˌäs \

Kids Definition of chaos

: complete confusion and disorder

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More from Merriam-Webster on chaos

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chaos

Spanish Central: Translation of chaos

Nglish: Translation of chaos for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chaos for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chaos

Comments on chaos

What made you want to look up chaos? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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