[ ahr-bi-trey-ter ]
/ ˈɑr bɪˌtreɪ tər /
Save This Word!

a person chosen to decide a dispute or settle differences, especially one formally empowered to examine the facts and decide the issue.


Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
Test how much you really know about regular and irregular plural nouns with this quiz.
Question 1 of 9
Which of the following nouns has an irregular plural form?

Origin of arbitrator

1400–50; late Middle English arbitratour<Late Latin; see arbitrate, -tor
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is an arbitrator?

An arbitrator is an independent, impartial third party that works to settle a dispute between two opposing sides, often by making a decision that they both agree to.

This process is called arbitration. For a process to be considered arbitration, it must involve an arbitrator, which can be a single person or a team of people. To act as an arbitrator is to arbitrate. Arbitrate can also mean to try to settle a dispute through arbitration, as in If we can’t come to an agreement, we may need to arbitrate.

The terms arbitrator and arbitration are especially used in the context of negotiations between businesses and labor unions. When the two sides can’t agree and negotiations are unproductive, they may seek to pursue arbitration by bringing in an arbitrator.

An arbitration process in which the arbitrator’s decision must be accepted by both parties is sometimes called binding arbitration—meaning the arbitrator’s decision is final and legally binding.

Example: After weeks of negotiations stalled and resulted in an impasse, the two sides agreed to bring in an arbitrator.

Where does arbitrator come from?

The first records of the word arbitrator come from the 1400s. It ultimately comes from the Latin verb arbitrāri, meaning “to give judgment.” The ending -tor is used in nouns that refer to a person who performs a specific action—in this case, the action of arbitrating.

Arbitrator is typically used in a more specific way than the word mediator, and the same is true for arbitration and mediation. Mediation generally refers to a process in which an impartial third party (called a mediator) helps parties to settle a dispute or create agreement by acting as an intermediary. This can happen in the workplace or simply among friends, for example.

In contrast, arbitration typically refers to a more formal form of mediation (often one that happens in a legal context), and an arbitrator acts in an official capacity.

  • Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to arbitrator?

What are some synonyms for arbitrator?

What are some words that share a root or word element with arbitrator




What are some words that often get used in discussing arbitrator?






How is arbitrator used in real life?

Arbitrator is most commonly used in the context of labor disputes. It usually refers to an official role.

Try using arbitrator!

True or False? 

The word arbitrator typically refers to a third party working in an official capacity to settle a dispute between opposing sides.

How to use arbitrator in a sentence