Something that's arbitrary seems like it's chosen at random instead of following a consistent rule. Team members would dislike their coach using a totally arbitrary method to pick starting players.

  • Pronunciation: / 'rɪɡərəs/
  • English description: based on or subject to individual discretion or preference or sometimes impulse or caprice
  • Synonyms: discretionary
  • Chinese Translation: 任意的(ren4 yi4 de)
  • Spanish Translation: arbitrario
  • ORIGIN: Even though arbitrary comes from a word meaning "judge" (arbiter), that doesn't mean judges are always fair. Calling a decision-maker arbitrary is usually a negative thing, suggesting the person is making rules based on whim rather than justice. A coach who selects starting players arbitrarily isn't strictly applying a rule; he could just be picking names out of a hat.


  • Arbitrary restrictions limit the ability of ex-offenders to get housing, student or business loans, credit cards, a meaningful job or even to vote.
  • The human brain is designed to reject the random, the haphazard, the arbitrary.

*New word description, story and part of "EXAMPLE SENTENCE" are cited in Vocabulary