) KEY ADJECTIVE:
- Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.
- Based on or subject to individual judgment or preference: The diet imposes overall calorie limits, but daily menus are arbitrary.
- Established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute: an arbitrary penalty.
- Not limited by law; despotic: the arbitrary rule of a dictator.
Middle English arbitrarie
, from Latin arbitrrius
, from arbiter, arbitr-
; see arbiterOTHER FORMS:arbi·trari·ly
) KEY (Adverb)
, arbi·trari·ness(Noun)SYNONYMS: arbitrary, capricious, whimsical
These adjectives mean determined by or arising from whim or caprice rather than judgment or reason: an arbitrary decision; a capricious refusal; a whimsical remark.