American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.
- adj. Based on or subject to individual judgment or preference: The diet imposes overall calorie limits, but daily menus are arbitrary.
- adj. Established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute: an arbitrary penalty.
- adj. Not limited by law; despotic: the arbitrary rule of a dictator.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Not regulated by fixed rule or law; determinable as occasion arises; subject to individual will or judgment; discretionary.
- In law, properly determinable by the choice or pleasure of a tribunal, as distinguished from that which should be determined according to settled rules or the relative rights or equities of the parties. Thus, whether the judge will take and state an account himself, or refer it to an auditor, is a question resting in his arbitrary discretion; whether, also, a particular person is qualified to act as auditor is a question involving judicial or legal discretion.
- Uncontrolled by law; using or abusing unlimited power; despotic; tyrannical.
- Not characterized by or manifesting any overruling principle; fixed, determined, or performed at will; independent of rule or control.
- Ungoverned by reason; hence, capricious; uncertain; unreasonable; varying; changeful: as, an arbitrary character.
- adj. Based on individual discretion or judgment; not based on any objective distinction, perhaps even made at random.
- adj. Determined by impulse rather than reason; heavy-handed.
- adj. mathematics Any and all possible.
- adj. Determined by independent arbiter.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. Depending on will or discretion; not governed by any fixed rules
- adj. Exercised according to one's own will or caprice, and therefore conveying a notion of a tendency to abuse the possession of power.
- adj. Despotic; absolute in power; bound by no law; harsh and unforbearing; tyrannical.
- adj. based on or subject to individual discretion or preference or sometimes impulse or caprice
- From Middle English arbitrarie, Latin arbitrarius ("arbitrary, uncertain"), from arbiter ("witness, on-looker, listener, judge, overseer") (Wiktionary)
- Middle English arbitrarie, from Latin arbitrārius, from arbiter, arbitr-, arbiter; see arbiter. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
““But I know people that define art as anything that somebody has claimed to be art, effectively rendering the term arbitrary and useless.””
“The development is contained in a report by the Obama administration, International Strategy for Cyberspace, in which the US for the first time sets out a strategy for dealing with the expansion of the internet and what it describes as "arbitrary and malicious disruption".”
“Ethnic tribes that still hold on to the dream of a unified Pashtun nation refuse to recognize what they call an "arbitrary line".”
“ALHAMA DE MURCIA, Spain VN – Saxo Bank-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis blasted UCI leadership over what he called an arbitrary ban on race radio and said the cycling governing body is out of touch with the elite level of the sport.”
“The existence of what we called arbitrary coherence.”
“The Bush administration saying it will not accept what it calls arbitrary dates for troop withdrawals.”
“She used the meeting to single out Syria for criticism on its human rights record, especially what she calls arbitrary detentions of democracy activists in that country.”
“If I do that that is interpreted as structuring and at their discretion what we call arbitrary enforcement, anybody in law enforcement understands what this means, under civil law.”
“If you weren't meeting what you call the arbitrary goals of balancing the budget, and you were merely trying to get the savings you needed to keep the Medicare trust fund solvent, how much would you need?”
“ALGIERS - Amnesty International expressed concern about what it called arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and torture of detainees and fatal shooting of unarmed civilians in Algeria.”
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