mid-15c., "gaping void," from L. chaos
, from Gk. khaos
"abyss, that which gapes wide open, is vast and empty," from *khnwos,
from PIE base *gheu-, *gh(e)i-
"to gape" (cf. Gk khaino
"I yawn," O.E. ginian
, O.N. ginnunga-gap
; see yawn
). Meaning "utter confusion" (c.1600) is extended from theological use of chaos
for "the void at the beginning of creation" in Vulgate version of Genesis. The Gk. for "disorder" was tarakhe
, however the use of chaos
here was rooted in Hesiod ("Theogony"
), who describes khaos
as the primeval emptiness of the Universe, begetter of Erebus and Nyx ("Night"), and in Ovid ("Metamorphoses"
), who opposes Khaos
, "the ordered Universe." Chaos theory
in the modern mathematical sense is attested from c.1977.