en·​tro·​py | \ ˈen-trə-pē How to pronounce entropy (audio) \
plural entropies

Definition of entropy

1 thermodynamics : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
2a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity Entropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder.— James R. Newman
b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder The deterioration of copy editing and proof-reading, incidentally, is a token of the cultural entropy that has overtaken us in the postwar years.— John Simon
4 statistical mechanics : a factor or quantity that is a function of the physical state of a mechanical system and is equal to the logarithm of the probability for the occurrence of the particular molecular arrangement in that state
5 communication theory : a measure of the efficiency of a system (such as a code or a language) in transmitting information, being equal to the logarithm of the number of different messages that can be sent by selection from the same set of symbols and thus indicating the degree of initial uncertainty that can be resolved by any one message

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Other Words from entropy

entropic \ en-​ˈtrō-​pik How to pronounce entropy (audio) , -​ˈträ-​pik \ adjective
entropically \ en-​ˈtrō-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce entropy (audio) , -​ˈträ-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

With its Greek prefix en-, meaning "within", and the trop- root here meaning "change", entropy basically means "change within (a closed system)". The closed system we usually think of when speaking of entropy (especially if we're not physicists) is the entire universe. But entropy applies to closed systems of any size. Entropy is seen when the ice in a glass of water in a warm room melts—that is, as the temperature of everything in the room evens out. In a slightly different type of entropy, a drop of food coloring in that glass of water soon spreads out evenly. However, when a nonphysicist uses the word, he or she is usually trying to describe a large-scale collapse.

Examples of entropy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nye uses Tik Tok to not only share fun experiments on entropy and his pizza making but to spread knowledge and awareness about COVID-19. Travel + Leisure, "Bill Nye's Advice for Getting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic — and How Gin and Tonics Can Help," 6 May 2021 Maxwell had created a system that appeared to defy the rise of entropy, and thus the laws of the universe. Quanta Magazine, "How Maxwell’s Demon Continues to Startle Scientists," 22 Apr. 2021 These numbers are also fed to a random bit Generator algorithm (RGB) which distills further the entropy of quantum origin to produce random bits in compliancy to NIST 800-90A/B/C standard. Chris Smith, BGR, "Samsung just released a Galaxy flagship like no other," 13 Apr. 2021 The other biggest challenge of working remotely—particularly on a boat—are physics and entropy, says Carey. Peter Lane Taylor, Forbes, "Meet The Families Pioneering The Future Of Remote Work (And How They’re Doing It In The World’s Most Amazing Places)," 7 Apr. 2021 This expert doom-and-gloomer can’t help but enjoy the tulips finally poking through the soil, the garden fresh and neat and full of promise before the weeds stake their claim and entropy prevails. BostonGlobe.com, "Such a downer," 27 Mar. 2021 The congregation may shout or cut a step, and the preacher may peacock a bit to animate the sermon; release can often look like entropy to the untrained eye. Briana Younger, Vulture, "Remaking R&B in Serpentwithfeet’s Image," 23 Mar. 2021 Now physicists just had to calculate the entanglement entropy. Quanta Magazine, "The Most Famous Paradox in Physics Nears its End," 29 Oct. 2020 Some meetings go off without a hitch, but that doesn't mean that entropy won't ensue later. Ross Levin, Star Tribune, "Learning to handle disorder is key facet of solid financial planning," 27 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'entropy.' 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 entropy

1867, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for entropy

International Scientific Vocabulary en- entry 2 + Greek tropē change, literally, turn, from trepein to turn

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Time Traveler for entropy

Time Traveler

The first known use of entropy was in 1867

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Statistics for entropy

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entropy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entropy. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for entropy


en·​tro·​py | \ ˈen-trə-pē How to pronounce entropy (audio) \
plural entropies

Medical Definition of entropy

: a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder and that is a property of the system's state and is related to it in such a manner that a reversible change in heat in the system produces a change in the measure which varies directly with the heat change and inversely with the absolute temperature at which the change takes place broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system

Other Words from entropy

entropic \ en-​ˈtrōp-​ik How to pronounce entropy (audio) , -​ˈträp-​ How to pronounce entropy (audio) \ adjective
entropically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce entropy (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on entropy

Britannica English: Translation of entropy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about entropy

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