chaos

chaos (n.) mid-15c., "gaping void," from L. chaos, from Gk. khaos "abyss, that which gapes wide open, is vast and empty," from *khnwos, from PIE root *gheu-, *gh(e)i- "to gape" (Cf. Gk khaino "I yawn," O.E. ginian, O.N. ginnunga-gap; see YAWN (Cf. 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 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." Chaos theory in the modern mathematical sense is attested from c.1977.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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