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I am wondering if there is a word to describe a person who likes chaos. By this I mean a few specific things:

  1. The person is pleased to hear when chaos is created, or confusion emerges
  2. The person will take opportunities to create chaos or confusion
  3. The person enjoys taking part in chaotic or disorganized situations.

I can't seem to think of a word to describe the type of person who would act in this way.

I hope this question is clear.

EDIT: Below gbutters sums up nicely:

What I wonder is if there is a word for a generally good-natured person who just likes some good old-fashioned chaos. It seems like any person that thrives on chaos would have to have some extra baggage.

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    My first thought would be "anarchist", but that isn't quite accurate because anarchism isn't so much about chaos than statelessness.
    – Gilead
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 5:53
  • Ya, I definitely am not thinking of anarchy. But I can see the relation.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 6:25
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    ...Based off of the fairy tales and fantasy I've read, this describes fairies and fairy-like creatures pretty exactly, and they're usually described as "mischievous," sometimes maliciously so. +1-ing that answer, btw...I'd suggest fairy, but it already has some rather different connotations...
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 18:57
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    I've also tried to think of the same word, and no words in this list fit, though there are some great ideas. But there's a specific word for somebody who likes confrontation, starting arguements, somebody that does not take a side at all but just likes watching battle of any kind (physical or ideological). It's in the movie Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. The antagonist is the character with the description we're looking for. I even remember the line almost, "He was a...", I think it was early in the movie, but I can't recall the exact word.
    – user32491
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 15:46
  • I'd call them a nutcase and be done with it, but that doesn't really answer the question.
    – Carl Smith
    Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 14:54

17 Answers 17

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A callithumpian

1836, U.S. colloquial, probably a fanciful construction at one time designating a society of social reformers, then in reference to "noisy disturbers of elections and meetings," and most commonly "a band of discordant instruments."

Actually paired adjectivally with chaos in stanza 84 of David Van Alstyne's 296-versed mouthful of a poem:

buccaneerishly galumphing into grievous garboils of chthonian uproar and terpsicoresan bedlam, and for gallivanting in great gyres of callithumpian chaos in a three-ring circus of near-simian agitation

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    +1 for answering with your moniker. Did you just change that?
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 6:35
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    @Caleb: No, me and callithumpian go way back. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 12:15
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    It's the question he was born to answer. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 18:58
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Mischievious comes to mind. Though that doesn't directly imply chaos, it hints of a person that might enjoy such events and would find ways of creating chaotic situations.

Spontaneous is another with a slightly less evil connotation. Though that's more of a personality trait than a behavioral trait, which is to say that I wouldn't necessarily be prepared to say that a spontaneous person would want to cause chaotic situations.

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  • Both useful answers. To be honest, I had an even more nefarious connotation that mischievous. These are both great substitutes in the right situation.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:32
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maybe the word gadfly is appropriate?

  1. One who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempt to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant.

you might want to try chaordic

The portmanteau chaordic refers to a system of governance that blends characteristics of chaos and order.

you might also want to see the chaotic good

Chaotic Good is known as the "Beatific," "Rebel," or "Cynic" alignment. A Chaotic Good character favors change for a greater good, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well. They always intend to do the right thing, but their methods are generally disorganized and often out of alignment with the rest of society. They may create conflict in a team if they feel they are being pushed around, and often view extensive organization and planning as pointless, preferring to improvise. While they do not have evil intentions, they may do bad things (even though they will not enjoy doing these things) to people who are, in their opinion, bad people, if it benefits the greater good. Most elves are Chaotic Good, as are some fey. Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, and Robin Hood are examples of Chaotic Good individuals.Eladrin are the outsider race representing Chaotic Good.

and I'd like to add agent provocateur and instigator

A person who secretly disrupts a group's activities from within the group; an instigator, troublemaker

the above quote is for agent provocateur while this one is for instigator

A person who intentionally starts something, especially one that starts trouble.

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    Gadfly is another useful special case. Thank you. The portmanteau is amusing, and the dnd reference appreciated. I also considered CG, and part of the question came from that situation.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 24, 2011 at 4:00
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You might consider the word maniac since it conjures up the idea of somebody who is mostly interested in the rush and thrill of things with no regard to the mess made by doing them brashly. They generally are not happy unless something is is our could go wrong.

Depending on the context you might consider precipitate (adj.), impetuous or reckless. All of those are variations on a trait that often leads to chaos. It is an indirect link but might conjure up the implications you are looking for in some cases.

Note: the linked dictionary definitions are fairly narrow in scope, but a search through literature will show they can have much wider usage. If you carefully script your context these words may be useful contributions toward your intended meaning.

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    Maniac is someone who has mania. For example person can have mania of washing hands.
    – Andrey
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 13:21
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    An amusing exemplification of why maniac wont work is manic organization. :P Also, unfortunately the other three add too much weight. Thanks though.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:42
  • @Andrey ... I think the common usage is a little more subtle. You can be a <blank> maniac (e.g. board game maniac) or a have a mania of something, but used by itself without any qualifications implies a general character trait, a sort of recklessness or incessant activity.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 19:30
  • @BBischof, of course when you use manic as an adjective of another quality it becomes just a modifier of that quality, but used as a stand-along adjective, or the noun form "maniac", the default qualities assumed are of activity, possibly resulting in chaos.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 19:32
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Since it is actually a general reference to pandemonium itself and an alternate spelling of the old word pandemonic, to use it in this sense would be incorrect usage, but there is actually an English word pandemoniac. With a generous dose of artistic license you might get away with making it mean "a lover of chaos" since the modern English ear would gladly make that leap based on the -iac ending.

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  • This is good. I do wish pandemoniac referred to a person rather than a setting, but I agree I could get away with this. I could be perverse and say pandemaniac ;) which is a good compromise among your answers. :)
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:38
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Since nobody's mentioned it, I'm going to suggest puck and puckish. Shakespeare's made Puck's love of chaos famous, but originally a puck was just a particular kind of sprite with the same tendencies you describe.

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I'd probably go with either Discoridan or anarchist, depending on the flavor of their desire for chaos.

Discordianisim is a religous philosophy favoring chaos, and Anarchy a political one. However, the person in question does not have to be an actual adherent to either to be labled as such in a metaphorical way.

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I've met a few drama queens over the years...

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  • or drama kings ...
    – kns98
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 20:09
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I'm not sure you want something clinical, but this may work.

A sociopath,

Sociopaths can't tolerate stability, and they sabotage it whenever they can. They thrive on chaos and danger--on living life at the edge of the cliff. They are rarely at rest, and deception and lying satisfy their virtually unquenchable need for stimulation.

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    A sociopath is also lacking in empathy for other human beings. I don't think you can use this as an adjective for loving chaos, just because of the huge amount of other baggage it brings.
    – Lunivore
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 11:20
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    @Lunivore I hear you. What I wonder is if there is a word for a generally good-natured person who just likes some good old-fashioned chaos. It seems like any person that thrives on chaos would have to have some extra baggage.
    – gbutters
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 11:25
  • that comment captures well my dismay at searching for this word!
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:39
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Perhaps a bedlamite? Not perhaps its original definition but I like it anyway.

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  • It possible you could claim that a person with the aforementioned traits is a bedlamite, but this is not what I am going for here.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:40
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Entrophile for sure. Of course my answer is a bit tongue in cheek...

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  • This is amusing, and in a certain sense fine. But it isn't quite ok. I understand punning on entropy, but actually the latin doesn't translate the way we would like. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/entro
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:35
  • Fortunately, English isn't Latin. :)
    – cHao
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 2:23
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Another possibility is a Dadaist, and though this usage is exclusive to the art world, it may work in a less stringent sense to describe someone who embraces "chaos and irrationality." Per Wikipedia:

Many Dadaists believed that the 'reason' and 'logic' of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality.

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Have you considered the word chaotic? I wouldn't associate mania with chaos.

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  • Chaotic isn't quite right. To say a person is chaotic is different than those traits I describe above. But I do agree that mania does not imply chaos.
    – BBischof
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 16:39
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Someone who likes to "stir the pot" is someone who will introduce chaos into a situation. Perhaps, then, a "pot-stirrer"?

He's a real pot-stirrer!

If this is not right, perhaps it will give you ideas, at least.

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  • Ringing the changes on that: A Sikh lady I used to know had a sister-in-law she described as a "shit-stirrer". Some people are only happy when everyone around them is in conflict. That may not be quite the same thing as loving chaos, but it is at least related.
    – David Pugh
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 20:17
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You could consider the word heretic or even chaoticist.

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  • heretic is good since god stands for order. one might say the devil stands for disorder and might want to use the word devilish.
    – kns98
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 20:11
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since chaos is the opposite of organized, we are looking for someone who likes this kind of situation. The description of the person might depend on the reason the person likes it. Is it for thrill seeking? ( maniacal ) Or is it to enact revenge? ( destructive ) If the goal is destruction or suffering one might even use the word devilish. If the goal is simply poking fun, I think mischievous fits the bill.

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I think the ironic use of either wrecker or saboteur would be appropriate to describe the kind of person you have in mind.

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