- entropy (n.)
- 1868, from German Entropie "measure of the disorder of a system," coined 1865 (on analogy of Energie) by German physicist Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888), in his work on the laws of thermodynamics, from Greek entropia "a turning toward," from en "in" (see en- (2)) + trope "a turning, a transformation" (see trope). The notion is supposed to be "transformation contents." Related: Entropic.
It was not until 1865 that Clausius invented the word entropy as a suitable name for what he had been calling "the transformational content of the body." The new word made it possible to state the second law in the brief but portentous form: "The entropy of the universe tends toward a maximum," but Clausius did not view entropy as the basic concept for understanding that law. He preferred to express the physical meaning of the second law in terms of the concept of disgregation, another word that he coined, a concept that never became part of the accepted structure of thermodynamics. [Martin J. Klein, "The Scientific Style of Josiah Willard Gibbs," in "A Century of Mathematics in America," 1989]