Words related to chaos


Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to yawn, gape, be wide open." 

It forms all or part of: chaos; chasm; dehiscence; gap; gasp; gawp; hiatus; yawn.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vijihite "to gape, be ajar;" Greek khainein, Latin hiare "to yawn, gape;" Old Church Slavonic zinoti "to open (one's mouth);" Russian razinut', Serbo-Croatian zinuti, Lithuanian žioju, žioti, Czech zivati "to yawn;" Old English ginian, gionian "open the mouth wide, yawn, gape," Old Norse gina "to yawn," Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen "to be wide open," German gähnen "to yawn."


digraph used in Old French for the "tsh" sound. In some French dialects, including that of Paris (but not that of Picardy), Latin ca- became French "tsha." This was introduced to English after the Norman Conquest, in words borrowed from Old French such as chaste, charity, chief (adj.). Under French influence, -ch- also was inserted into Anglo-Saxon words that had the same sound (such as bleach, chest, church) which in Old English still was written with a simple -c-, and into those that had formerly been spelled with a -c- and pronounced "k" such as chin and much.

As French evolved, the "t" sound dropped out of -ch-, so in later loan-words from French -ch- has only the sound "sh-" (chauffeur, machine (n.), chivalry, etc.).

It turns up as well in words from classical languages (chaos, echo, etc.). Most uses of -ch- in Roman Latin were in words from Greek, which in Greek would be pronounced correctly as /k/ + /h/, as in modern blockhead, but most Romans would have said merely /k/, and this was the regular pronunciation in English. Before c. 1500 such words were regularly spelled with a -c- (Crist, cronicle, scoole), but Modern English has preserved or restored the etymological spelling in most of them (chemical, chorus, monarch). 

Sometimes ch- is written to keep -c- hard before a front vowel, as still in modern Italian. In some languages (Welsh, Spanish, Czech) ch- can be treated as a separate letter and words in it are alphabetized after -c- (or, in Czech and Slovak, after -h-). The sound also is heard in words from more distant languages (as in cheetah, chintz), and the digraph also is used to represent the sound in Scottish loch.

chaotic (adj.)

1713, "in a state of primordial chaos," irregularly formed in English from chaos + -ic, probably on model of eros/erotic, demos/demotic, hypnos/hypnotic, etc. Transferred or figurative meaning "confused, disordered" is from 1747. Related: Chaotically.

chasm (n.)

1590s, "deep crack in the earth," from Latin chasma, from Greek khasma "yawning hollow, gulf," related to khaskein "to yawn," and thus to chaos. In English in 17c. often spelled chasma. Figurative use, of a great interruption or wide breach of any kind, is from 1640s. Related: Chasmy (1786); chasmal (1842, Poe); chasmic (1885). The bloody chasm (1868) was an old rhetorical phrase for the American Civil War.

gas (n.1)

1650s, from Dutch gas, probably from Greek khaos "empty space" (see chaos). The sound of Dutch "g" is roughly equivalent to that of Greek "kh." First used by Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), probably influenced by Paracelsus, who used khaos in an occult sense of "proper elements of spirits" or "ultra-rarified water," which was van Helmont's definition of gas.

Hunc spiritum, incognitum hactenus, novo nomine gas voco ("This vapor, hitherto unknown, I call by a new name, 'gas.'") [Helmont, Ortus Medicinae]

Modern scientific sense began 1779, with later secondary specialization to "combustible mix of vapors" (1794, originally coal gas); "anesthetic" (1894, originally nitrous oxide); and "poison gas" (1900). Meaning "intestinal vapors" is from 1882. "The success of this artificial word is unique" [Weekley]. Slang sense of "empty talk" is from 1847; slang meaning "something exciting or excellent" first attested 1953, from earlier hepster slang gasser in the same sense (1944). Gas also meant "fun, a joke" in Anglo-Irish and was used so by Joyce (1914). Gas-works is by 1817. Gas-oven is from 1851 as a kitchen appliance; gas-stove from 1848.