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[key-os] /ˈkeɪ ɒs/
a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
any confused, disorderly mass:
a chaos of meaningless phrases.
the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.
(initial capital letter) the personification of this in any of several ancient Greek myths.
Obsolete. a chasm or abyss.
Origin of chaos
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin < Greek; akin to chasm, yawn, gape
1. disarray, jumble, turmoil, tumult.
1. order, peace, calm. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for chaos


complete disorder; utter confusion
(usually capital) the disordered formless matter supposed to have existed before the ordered universe
an obsolete word for abyss
Derived Forms
chaotic (keɪˈɒtɪk) adjective
chaotically, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin, from Greek khaos; compare chasm, yawn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chaos

late 14c., "gaping void," from Old French chaos (14c.) or directly from Latin chaos, from Greek khaos "abyss, that which gapes wide open, is vast and empty," from *khnwos, from PIE root *gheu- "to gape, yawn" (cf. Greek khaino "I yawn," Old English ginian, Old Norse ginnunga-gap; see yawn (v.)).

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 (1530s in English). The Greek 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 to Kosmos, "the ordered Universe." Meaning "orderless confusion" in human affairs is from c.1600. Chaos theory in the modern mathematical sense is attested from c.1977.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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chaos in Science
The behavior of systems that follow deterministic laws but appear random and unpredictable. Chaotic systems very are sensitive to initial conditions; small changes in those conditions can lead to quite different outcomes. One example of chaotic behavior is the flow of air in conditions of turbulence. See more at fractal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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chaos in Culture

chaos definition

A new branch of science that deals with systems whose evolution depends very sensitively upon the initial conditions. Turbulent flows of fluids (such as white water in a river) and the prediction of the weather are two areas where chaos theory has been applied with some success.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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chaos in Technology
A property of some non-linear dynamic systems which exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This means that there are initial states which evolve within some finite time to states whose separation in one or more dimensions of state space depends, in an average sense, exponentially on their initial separation.
Such systems may still be completely deterministic in that any future state of the system depends only on the initial conditions and the equations describing the change of the system with time. It may, however, require arbitrarily high precision to actually calculate a future state to within some finite precision.
["On defining chaos", R. Glynn Holt and D. Lynn Holt (]
Fixed precision floating-point arithmetic, as used by most computers, may actually introduce chaotic dependence on initial conditions due to the accumulation of rounding errors (which constitutes a non-linear system).
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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