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The rock concert, instead of running smoothly, was chaotic and disorderly from the beginning. The chaotic or messed-up state began when the opening act canceled at the last minute, and the main band refused to play early. Next lightning crashed and the lights went out, causing a chaotic, uncontrolled response—everyone was scrambling for the exits. When the police arrived to try to reinstate some order, a rumor spread that there had been a bomb threat, which made things even more chaotic, crazy, and rowdy.

Quiz: What is a chaotic situation?

  • There is great confusion and lack of order.
  • Mistakes are made but are at last fixed.
  • The outcome is better than anticipated.

Memory Hook

Chap Neurotic That chap is so neurotic because he lives a chaotic, messed-up life.


  • The Netherlands and Germany battled to a nervy draw, and, while not much was expected of the Germans, the same can’t be said for the Dutch, who looked awkward and chaotic before the late equalizer. —Sports Illustrated
  • The Earth’s climate, one scientist argued, is a chaotic system — shooting particles into the stratosphere could have unforeseen consequences, such as enlarging the ozone hole, that we might only discover after the damage was done. —Rolling Stone
  • Ethiopia is emerging as the key strategic ally in this effort, and the chaotic zone around Mogadishu, not really controlled by any government, is a focal area of concern. —Harper's Magazine
  • The catch is that the evolution of a chaotic system depends very sensitively on its starting conditions, which leads in the long term to behavior that is ultimately unpredictable. —The Economist

Word Ingredients

cha infinite space or darkness
-ic like, of

Something chaotic hearkens to the extreme disorder found in “infinite space.” According to some systems of thought, from this “darkness,” viewed as disorderly or “chaotic” because there is nothing of recognizable form, came all things that do have form, hence some order to them.

Word Theater

Roger Rabbit Roger Rabbit's babysitting experience is chaotic!

Word Constellation


Word Variants

chaos n great disorder or confusion