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

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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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 Wandering into the chaos was 86-year-old Sybil Dupuis, whose great-grandfather wrote the legislation leading to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary more than a century ago. Washington Post, "New Hampshire primary filing chaos comes to a close," 16 Nov. 2019 Bolivia has been thrown into chaos in recent weeks amid allegations that Morales, who has been in office since 2006, fixed the election. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, "Russia allegedly meddled in Bolivia’s controversial election," 16 Nov. 2019 So, in a way, the ongoing chaos in Hong Kong is also an indirect legacy. Abhishyant Kidangoor/ Hong Kong, Time, "Historian William Dalrymple Warns of Unchecked Corporate Power in His Latest Book," 7 Nov. 2019 There, the rich are indulged, protected, and cosseted, while the poor are punished, humiliated, and cast into chaos. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Whither Kamala Harris? A Failed-State Senator’s Failing Campaign," 31 Oct. 2019 Thousands of athletes and millions of spectators remained blissfully unaware that the Olympics’ staff had spent its first night fighting off an invisible enemy that threatened to throw the entire event into chaos. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Olympic Destroyer: The Cyberattack on the 2018 Winter Games," 24 Oct. 2019 Enacting this chaos is a large part of the game’s appeal, and its success. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Video Games Are Better Without Game-Play," 22 Oct. 2019 As these habitats falter, processes hidden underground descend into chaos. Wired, "How Chaos Will Unfold if Trump Opens the Tongass to Logging," 17 Oct. 2019 NORTH ANDOVER Dog, missing from last year’s gas blasts, returns A dog that went missing amid the chaos of the natural gas explosions and fires in Massachusetts a year ago is back in the arms of its owner., "Natick woman dies after single-car crash on I-95," 4 Oct. 2019

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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Statistics for chaos

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Chaos.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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How to pronounce chaos (audio)

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 How to pronounce chaos (audio) \

Kids Definition of chaos

: complete confusion and disorder

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