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

This is a homefront story, with the overseas chaos only briefly glimpsed in video footage. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘Viper Club’: Susan Sarandon brings grace, heartbreaking power to hostage drama," 30 Oct. 2018 Or will the continuing chaos lead to deeper issues? Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Next Week's 'Blue Bloods' Episode Reveals That Frank Reagan Is Battling a Serious Lawsuit," 26 Oct. 2018 Such satellites would likely be lost during the chaos-inducing inward migration undertaken by these giants after their formation, the thinking goes. Mike Wall,, "First Exomoon Found? Neptune-Sized World Possibly Spotted Orbiting Alien Planet," 3 Oct. 2018 The Times of India reported that the leopard sparked chaos after wandering into a neighborhood of the central Indian city of Indore. Fox News, "'Baby snatcher' monkey hunted after infant found dead in well," 2 Oct. 2018 Every day, the chaos machine spits out a scenario that nobody at Tesla or Waymo or Uber ever envisioned. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "It's Not Just Human Drivers—Machines Have Blind Spots, Too," 21 Sep. 2018 Drew Angerer / Getty Images Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency — and the chaos that followed — drove a massive spike in digital news subscriptions for the New York Times. Rani Molla, Recode, "The ‘Trump bump’ in the New York Times’ digital news subscription growth is over," 9 Aug. 2018 That superficial calm is gradually chipped away over the course of the day, and by nightfall chaos reigns—case in point, the exhilarating and deranged climax of last week’s episode. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sharp Objects Episode 5: Adora Is Officially the Worst Mother Ever," 6 Aug. 2018 But in the chaos, the lists kept getting lost—a problem, obviously, but one that’s easier to identify in hindsight than to fix in real time. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "The Devastating Aftermath of an Avalanche on Everest," 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

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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