cha·​os | \ ˈkā-ˌäs How to pronounce chaos (audio) \

Essential Meaning of chaos

1 : complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything The loss of electricity caused chaos throughout the city. When the police arrived, the street was in total/complete/absolute chaos. The country had descended into economic chaos.
2 : the state of the universe before there was any order and before stars and planets were formed

Full 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

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 An Uber passenger who got stuck in the chaos of the I-95 highway shutdown in Virginia was issued a full refund after the ride-hailing service slapped him with a $700 bill. NBC News, 6 Jan. 2022 Raised in chaos, Vance attributes his success largely to the interventions of his fierce grandmother, Mamaw, the only real source of stability in his life. Simon Van Zuylen-wood, Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2022 In an upset, Martínez won by 300 votes and the town erupted in chaos. Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2021 In the chaos of the Great Resignation, many thousands more may be making this same mistake. - Make Genius Money Moves, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2021 Supply chains are in chaos, workers are hard to find, and the specter of cyberattacks looms over companies that are still struggling to update their aging computer networks. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, 28 Dec. 2021 Many of the children tried to flee Afghanistan with their families but got separated in the chaos, advocates say. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 27 Dec. 2021 In the ensuing chaos, a pregnant teacher was also injured. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 26 Dec. 2021 Attendees at the concert described a crushing crowd surge that caused people to pass out in the chaos. Anne Steele, WSJ, 22 Dec. 2021

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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Time Traveler for chaos

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near chaos

Chao Phraya



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Statistics for chaos

Last Updated

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Chaos.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for chaos


cha·​os | \ ˈkā-ˌäs How to pronounce chaos (audio) \

Kids Definition of chaos

: complete confusion and disorder

More from Merriam-Webster on chaos

Nglish: Translation of chaos for Spanish Speakers

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


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