AskDefine | Define chaos

Dictionary Definition



1 a state of extreme confusion and disorder [syn: pandemonium, bedlam, topsy-turvydom, topsy-turvyness]
2 the formless and disordered state of matter before the creation of the cosmos
3 (Greek mythology) the most ancient of gods; the personification of the infinity of space preceding creation of the universe
4 (physics) a dynamical system that is extremely sensitive to its initial conditions

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek χάος vast chasm, void.


  • /keɪɒs/


  1. A state of disorder.
  2. A force that seeks to spread disorder.
  3. Behaviour that appears random and yet is governed by exact mathematical equations and so is actually deterministic. Chaotic systems typically exhibit exquisite sensitivity to initial conditions.
  4. An unseen force or energy believed to drive the universe.


  • See


Derived terms

Related terms


state of disorder
force that seeks to spread disorder
Japanese: カオス (kaosu)
  • Russian: хаос
mathematical uncertainty
Japanese: 混乱 (こんらん, konran), 無秩序 (むちつじょ, muchitsujo), 混沌 (こんとん, konton)

Extensive Definition

Chaos (derived from the Ancient Greek , Chaos) typically refers to unpredictability, and is the antithetical concept of cosmos. The word did not mean "disorder" in classical-period ancient Greece. It meant "the primal emptiness, space" (see Chaos (mythology)). Chaos is derived from the Proto-Indo-Euopean root ghn or ghen meaning "gape, be wide open": compare "chasm" (from Ancient Greek , a cleft, slit or gap), and Anglo-Saxon gānian ("yawn"), geanian, ginian ("gape wide"); see also Old Norse Ginnungagap. Due to people misunderstanding early Christian uses of the word, the meaning of the word changed to "disorder". (The Ancient Greek for "disorder" is .).

Cause and consequence

Chaos is the complexity of causality or the relationship between events. This means that any 'seemingly' insignificant event in the universe has the potential to trigger a chain reaction that will change the whole system. A well known saying in connection with this issue is "A butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane on the other side of the earth." This is also known as the "butterfly effect".

Scientific and mathematical chaos

Mathematically, chaos means an aperiodic deterministic behavior which is very sensitive to its initial conditions, i.e., infinitesimal perturbations of initial conditions for a chaotic dynamical system lead to large variations of the orbit in the phase space.
Chaotic systems are systems that look random but aren't. They are actually deterministic systems (predictable if you have enough information) governed by physical laws, that are very difficult to predict accurately (a commonly used example is weather forecasting).
Furthermore, the word gas is probably an alteration of chaos. Particles in gases exhibit chaotic motion, although this was unknown to Jan Baptist van Helmont, the inventor of the term. He is instead believed to have been influenced by the concept of chaos in the occult theories of Paracelsus.


chaos in Bulgarian: Хаос
chaos in Danish: Chaos
chaos in Spanish: Caos
chaos in Galician: Caos
chaos in Indonesian: Chaos
chaos in Georgian: ქაოსი
chaos in Latin: Chaos
chaos in Lithuanian: Chaosas
chaos in Hungarian: Khaosz
chaos in Japanese: カオス
chaos in Romanian: Haos
chaos in Russian: Хаос
chaos in Swedish: Chaos
chaos in Ukrainian: Хаос
chaos in Chinese: 混沌
chaos in Hebrew: כאוס

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

agitation, aloofness, amorphia, amorphism, amorphousness, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarchy, antinomianism, astronomical unit, bedlam, befuddlement, bewilderment, blurriness, bluster, bother, botheration, brawl, broil, brouhaha, cacophony, celestial spaces, cloud, commotion, confusion, cosmic space, criminal syndicalism, daze, diffusion, discombobulation, discomfiture, discomposure, disconcertion, discontinuity, discreteness, disjunction, dislocation, disorder, disorderliness, disorganization, disorientation, dispersal, dispersion, disruption, dissolution, disturbance, ebullition, embarrassment, embroilment, empty space, entropy, ether space, fabulous formless darkness, fanaticism, ferment, flap, flummox, flurry, fluster, flutter, fog, fomentation, foofaraw, formlessness, foul-up, frenzy, fuddle, fuddlement, fume, furor, furore, fury, fuss, fuzziness, hassle, haze, haziness, hubbub, incoherence, inconsistency, indecisiveness, indefiniteness, indeterminateness, interstellar space, jumble, lawlessness, license, light-year, lynch law, maze, mess, messiness, metagalactic space, misrule, mist, mistiness, mix-up, mob law, mob rule, mobocracy, morass, muddle, muddlement, nihilism, nonadhesion, noncohesion, obscurity, ocean of emptiness, ochlocracy, orderlessness, outer space, pandemonium, parsec, passion, perplexity, perturbation, pother, pressureless space, primal chaos, pucker, racket, rage, rebellion, revolution, row, ruckus, ruffle, rumpus, scattering, screw-up, separateness, shapelessness, shuffle, snafu, space, stew, storminess, sweat, swivet, syndicalism, tempestuousness, the void, the void above, tizzy, tohubohu, tumult, tumultuousness, turbulence, turmoil, unadherence, unadhesiveness, unclearness, unruliness, unsettlement, untenacity, uproar, upset, vagueness, wildness, zeal, zealousness
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1