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

Maybe modern masculinity really is fragile enough that men can’t tidy up without pretending to symbolically slay the great mother dragon, embodiment of chaos, in an epic battle for order. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 In the midst of all the chaos, sets the table with his slinky flow and poignant lyrics. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "The Black Eyed Peas Share Politically-Charged Video For 'Get It,' Announce European Tour," 10 July 2018 The photographs, though, couldn’t capture every moment of the churning chaos, the horrors happening between each click of the shutter. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Laser-Shooting Planes Uncover the Horror and Humanity of World War I," 9 July 2018 Privacy - Terms 3. World Cup chaos — The clubhouse had the life of a sports bar before Friday's game as a large group of Rangers' players were intently watching the World Cup match between Brazil and Belgium. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Pitching duel helps breeze past the offense," 6 July 2018 Think: fashion without the chaos (and a front row that may not have a million followers on Instagram, but who have more than a few million in the bank)., "Voilà! It's The Best Of Paris Haute Couture Street Style," 4 July 2018 Our interesting corner of the chaos: San Diego owns a front-row seat. Bryce Miller,, "Memo to Luke Walton: Here's comes LeBron ... and all that comes with it," 2 July 2018 In other words, the BPD's IT environment is in chaos, and the Information Systems Division—a staff of 34 people, most of them contractors—spends most of its time putting out individual fires with little top-level direction or project funding. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Baltimore’s police department is a technological disaster," 29 June 2018 Once a lightly staffed tip line waging war against crime and chaos, Crime Stoppers of Houston is moving into new territory with the hiring of tenacious victims’ advocate Andy Kahan. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston’s Crime Stoppers taps victim advocate Andy Kahan to lead new program," 21 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

19 Oct 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).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!