a person empowered to decide matters at issue; judge; umpire.
a person who has the sole or absolute power of judging or determining.

Origin of arbiter

1350–1400; Middle English arbitour, arbitre < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin arbiter
Related formssu·per·ar·bi·ter, noun

arbiter elegantiae

[ahr-bi-ter ey-le-gahn-tee-ahy; English ahr-bi-ter el-uh-gan-shee-ee]

noun Latin.

a judge of elegance or matters of taste.
Also ar·bi·ter e·le·gan·ti·a·rum [ahr-bi-ter ey-le-gahn-tee-ah-roo m; English ahr-bi-ter el-uh-gan-shee-air-uh m] /ˈɑr bɪˌtɛr ˌeɪ lɛˌgɑn tiˈɑ rʊm; English ˈɑr bɪ tər ˌɛl əˌgæn ʃiˈɛər əm/. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for arbiter

Contemporary Examples of arbiter

Historical Examples of arbiter

  • It was terrible to be chosen in this way to be the arbiter of Destiny.


    William J. Locke

  • The event established Mary as the arbiter in her own coterie.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • I, who had engaged as Conductor of the Set and found myself their Arbiter as well.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • To an extent which no other animal has ever approached, man is the arbiter of his own destiny.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • I felt this, and could, therefore, be at any moment the arbiter of my own freedom.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for arbiter



a person empowered to judge in a dispute; referee; arbitrator
a person having complete control of something

Word Origin for arbiter

C15: from Latin, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for arbiter

late 14c., from Old French arbitre or directly from Latin arbiter "one who goes somewhere (as witness or judge)," in classical Latin used of spectators and eye-witnesses, in law, "he who hears and decides a case, a judge, umpire, mediator;" from ad- "to" (see ad-) + baetere "to come, go." The specific sense of "one chosen by two disputing parties to decide the matter" is from 1540s. The earliest form of the word attested in English is the fem. noun arbitress (mid-14c.) "a woman who settles disputes."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper