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 The chaos is a refreshing change for a sport where the playoff field has felt all but decided by the end of September. Laine Higgins, WSJ, 10 Oct. 2021 Yet this apparent chaos of interacting components is really a sophisticated signal-processing system that can extract information reliably and efficiently from complicated cocktails of signaling molecules. Quanta Magazine, 16 Sep. 2021 The chaos of the past 18 months has been very profitable for the public-school monopoly. Corey Deangelis, National Review, 8 Sep. 2021 The implication is that chaos is both our invention and our destiny, which means there can be no solace or forgiveness for our collusion with it. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2021 But the chaos wasn’t always predictable: one afternoon, the foreigners again appeared before anyone could flee, and the family rushed into the back-yard trench. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 The chaos as American troops withdrew from Afghanistan was vivid and indelible. Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2021 Afghanistan's chaos is not yet an American political sea change. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, 24 Aug. 2021 The pugnacious chaos of the Trump White House was over., 24 Aug. 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

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chaos.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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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 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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