Arbitrary
Arbitrary Ar"bi*tra*ry, a. [L. arbitrarius, fr. arbiter: cf. F. arbitraire. See {Arbiter}.] 1. Depending on will or discretion; not governed by any fixed rules; as, an arbitrary decision; an arbitrary punishment. [1913 Webster]

It was wholly arbitrary in them to do so. --Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster]

Rank pretends to fix the value of every one, and is the most arbitrary of all things. --Landor. [1913 Webster]

2. Exercised according to one's own will or caprice, and therefore conveying a notion of a tendency to abuse the possession of power. [1913 Webster]

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused licentiousness. --Washington. [1913 Webster]

3. Despotic; absolute in power; bound by no law; harsh and unforbearing; tyrannical; as, an arbitrary prince or government. --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

{Arbitrary constant}, {Arbitrary function} (Math.), a quantity of function that is introduced into the solution of a problem, and to which any value or form may at will be given, so that the solution may be made to meet special requirements.

{Arbitrary quantity} (Math.), one to which any value can be assigned at pleasure. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • arbitrary — ar·bi·trary / är bə ˌtrer ē/ adj 1: depending on individual discretion (as of a judge) and not fixed by standards, rules, or law the manner of punishment is arbitrary 2 a: not restrained or limited in the exercise of power an arbitrary government …   Law dictionary

  • arbitrary — [är′bə trer΄ē] adj. [L arbitrarius < arbiter, ARBITER] 1. not fixed by rules, but left to one s judgment or choice; discretionary [arbitrary decision, arbitrary judgment] 2. based on one s preference, notion, whim, etc.; capricious [young… …   English World dictionary

  • arbitrary — [adj1] whimsical, chance approximate, capricious, discretionary, erratic, fanciful, frivolous, inconsistent, injudicious, irrational, irresponsible, offhand, optional, random, subjective, supercilious, superficial, unaccountable, unreasonable,… …   New thesaurus

  • arbitrary — (adj.) early 15c., deciding by one s own discretion, from O.Fr. arbitraire (14c.) or directly from L. arbitrarius depending on the will, uncertain, from arbiter (see ARBITER (Cf. arbiter)). The original meaning gradually descended to capricious… …   Etymology dictionary

  • arbitrary — autocratic, *absolute, despotic, tyrannical, tyrannous Analogous words: *dictatorial, authoritarian, magisterial, oracular: domineering, *masterful, imperious, peremptory, imperative Antonyms: legitimate Contrasted words: *lawful, legal, licit …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • arbitrary — ► ADJECTIVE 1) based on random choice or personal whim. 2) (of power or authority) used without constraint; autocratic. DERIVATIVES arbitrarily adverb arbitrariness noun. ORIGIN Latin arbitrarius, from arbiter judge, supreme ruler …   English terms dictionary

  • Arbitrary — For the concept of arbitrariness in trademark law, see Trademark distinctiveness. Arbitrary is a term given to choices and actions which are considered to be done not by means of any underlying principle or logic, but by whim or some decidedly… …   Wikipedia

  • arbitrary — 01. Application of the death penalty is much too [arbitrary] to be allowed in a civilized society. 02. The government has been terrorizing people through [arbitrary] arrests and indefinite detentions. 03. If you don t explain your marking system… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • arbitrary — adjective Date: 15th century 1. depending on individual discretion (as of a judge) and not fixed by law < the manner of punishment is arbitrary > 2. a. not restrained or limited in the exercise of power ; ruling by abso …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • arbitrary — In an unreasonable manner, as fixed or done capriciously or at pleasure. Without adequate determining principle; not founded in the nature of things; nonrational; not done or acting according to reason or judgment; depending on the will alone;… …   Black's law dictionary

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