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 absolute authority <
an arbitrary government
>
b. marked by or resulting from the unrestrained and often tyrannical exercise of power <
protection from arbitrary arrest and detention
>
3. a. based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something <
an arbitrary standard
>
<
take any arbitrary positive number
>
<
arbitrary division of historical studies into watertight compartments — A. J. Toynbee
>
b. existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will <
when a task is not seen in a meaningful context it is experienced as being arbitraryNehemiah Jordan
>
arbitrarily adverbarbitrariness noun

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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 — 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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 — 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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