Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Given or granted without return or recompense; unearned.
  • adj. Given or received without cost or obligation; free.
  • adj. Unnecessary or unwarranted; unjustified: gratuitous criticism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Given freely; unearned.
  • adj. Not called for by the circumstances; uncalled-for; without reason, cause, or proof; adopted or asserted without any good ground; unjustified.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Given without an equivalent or recompense; conferred without valuable consideration; granted without pay, or without claim or merit; not required by justice.
  • adj. Not called for by the circumstances; without reason, cause, or proof; adopted or asserted without any good ground.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Freely bestowed or obtained; costing nothing to the recipient.
  • Unnecessary; not required; not warranted by circumstances or reason; uncalled for: as, a gratuitous insult.
  • Unwarranted, unnecessary, groundless.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. without cause
  • adj. costing nothing
  • adj. unnecessary and unwarranted

Etymologies

From Latin grātuītus; see gwerə-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin gratuitus ("free"), from Latin gratia ("favor"), gratus ("showing favor") (Wiktionary)

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