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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

For some politically engaged black and brown young people who spoke with Teen Vogue, the chaos of the election cycle brought about a storm of frustrations for a number of reasons. Clarissa Brooks, Teen Vogue, "Nonvoters Have Valid Criticisms of the United States Government," 16 Nov. 2018 That too ends in chaos, and Allyson is yet again left alone with no protection. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Halloween Is More Than a Horror Movie—It's a Tribute to Mothers and Daughters," 20 Oct. 2018 But the chaos of episode four doesn't hold a candle to next week's drama. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "This 'Blue Bloods' Sneak Peek Shows Eddie Janko Dealing with Some Reagan Family Drama," 19 Oct. 2018 In the chaos that followed, the NKVD — Stalin’s intelligence agency and forerunner of the KGB — made a mistake that would doom all the Soviet agents who would infiltrate the Manhattan Project, the top-secret American effort to build an atomic bomb. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "Chance Encounters," 17 Aug. 2018 In the chaos that ensued, nobody knew what had happened or what was wrong. Jonathan Small, Good Housekeeping, ""Lord, Just Bring This Baby Back to Life": How a Brave 9-Year-Old Saved a Toddler from Drowning," 16 July 2018 For more than an hour, the transatlantic alliance was caught in the chaos of Trump’s making — until the president called an impromptu news conference to announce that everything, in fact, was just fine. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 Yet Croatia, just eight months ago, looked like a team in chaos. Jonathan Wilson,, "Croatia Meeting Its World Cup Potential As Chronic Chaos Subsides," 22 June 2018 In the chaos that ensued after the police were called, Officer Eric Casebolt can be seen chasing after teens, yelling at them to sit in the grass. Francisca Ortega, Houston Chronicle, "Bikini-clad McKinney, Texas teen who was tackled by police officer will finally get a pool party," 22 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about chaos

Statistics for chaos

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for chaos

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 typical or ideal example

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!