Meaning of ARBITRARY in English


I. ˈärbə.ˌtrerē, ˈȧb-, -ri adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French arbitraire, from Latin arbitrarius, from arbitr-, arbiter judge + -arius -ary — more at arbiter

1. : depending on choice or discretion ; specifically : determinable by decision of a judge or tribunal rather than defined by statute

an arbitrary decision

arbitrary punishment



(1) : arising from unrestrained exercise of the will, caprice, or personal preference : given to expressing opinions that arise thus

(2) : selected at random or as a typical example

such arbitrary items as clothing, room furnishings, travel — Official Register of Harvard University

b. : based on random or convenient selection or choice rather than on reason or nature

an arbitrary symbol

arbitrary division of historical studies into watertight compartments — A.J.Toynbee

c. Britain , of a printing character : not usually found in the ordinary type font


a. : given to willful irrational choices and demands : imperious

a man of iron will and arbitrary decision

b. : characterized by absolute power or authority : despotic , tyrannical

arbitrary rule

an arbitrary governor

Synonyms: see absolute

II. noun

( -es )

1. : something that is arbitrary

the … conception of cosmic rule, into which an element of the arbitrary had found its way — S.F.Mason


a. : a fixed sum allowed a carrier in making or dividing a through rate

b. : an amount added to or deducted from a basic transportation rate, fare, or charge (as an increment for abnormal services or features) ; also : a payment to employees for work other than regular duties

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.