- subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
- decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.
- having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.
- capricious; unreasonable; unsupported: an arbitrary demand for payment.
- Mathematics. undetermined; not assigned a specific value: an arbitrary constant.
- arbitraries, Printing. (in Britain) peculiar(def 9).
Origin of arbitrary
- founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; capricious
- having only relative application or relevance; not absolute
- (of a government, ruler, etc) despotic or dictatorial
- maths not representing any specific valuean arbitrary constant
- law (esp of a penalty or punishment) not laid down by statute; within the court's discretion
Word Origin for arbitrary
early 15c., "deciding by one's own discretion," from Old French arbitraire (14c.) or directly from Latin arbitrarius "depending on the will, uncertain," from arbiter (see arbiter). The original meaning gradually descended to "capricious" and "despotic" (1640s). Related: Arbitrarily; arbitrariness.