Definition of arbitrary in English:


Line breaks: ar¦bi|trary
Pronunciation: /ˈɑːbɪt(rə)ri


  • 3 Mathematics (Of a constant or other quantity) of unspecified value.
    More example sentences
    • In contemporary frameworks, the rule of generalization invokes a singular term, the arbitrary constant introduced into the text.
    • How you can tell whether a binary number of arbitrary size is divisible by 10 without looking at the whole number?
    • He defined differential operators of arbitrary order D t.



More example sentences
  • This series of protests clearly did not occur arbitrarily or randomly.
  • Anyone who falls within this date, decided arbitrarily without any logic, is promised the moon.
  • Judgement is not being exercised by the users as they surf the net: it is being exercised arbitrarily by filtering software.


More example sentences
  • African territorial boundaries are however fraught with difficulties because of the arbitrariness with which they were drawn by the colonial authorities.
  • Bulgaria will not tolerate political arbitrariness against the defendant medics.
  • The race itself - a 1-meter dash - pokes fun at the sheer arbitrariness of modern athletic contests.


late Middle English (in the sense 'dependent on one's will or pleasure, discretionary'): from Latin arbitrarius, from arbiter 'judge, supreme ruler', perhaps influenced by French arbitraire.

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elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody