- Arbitrary is defined as something that is determined by judgment or whim and not for any specific reason or rule.
- An example of an arbitrary decision would be a decision to go to the beach, just because you feel like it.
- An example of arbitrary behavior would be getting mad at someone even when they haven't done anything wrong.
arbitrary definition by Webster's New World
- not fixed by rules, but left to one's judgment or choice; discretionary: arbitrary decision, arbitrary judgment
- based on one's preference, notion, whim, etc.; capricious: young children and their arbitrary rules for games
- absolute; despotic
Origin: Classical Latin arbitrarius ; from arbiter, arbiter
arbitrary definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- 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.
Origin: Middle English arbitrarie, from Latin arbitrārius, from arbiter, arbitr-, arbiter; see arbiter.
- arˌbi·trarˈi·ly adverb
- arˈbi·trarˌi·ness noun
arbitrary - Legal Definition
- Determined or founded on individual discretion, especially when based on one’s opinion, judgment, or prejudice, rather than on fixed rules, procedures, or law. See also abuse of discretion.
- Absolute; despotic; completely unreasonable; lacking any rational basis. This type of decision is often called arbitrary and capricious.