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arbitrary

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English

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Etymology

From Middle English arbitrarie, [[w:Template:lang:la language|Template:lang:la]][[Category:Template:lang:la derivations]] arbitrarius (arbitrary, uncertain), from arbiter (witness, on-looker, listener, judge, overseer)

Pronunciation

Adjective

arbitrary (comparative {{{1}}}, superlative {{{2}}})

Positive
arbitrary

Comparative
{{{1}}}

Superlative
{{{2}}}

  1. Based on individual discretion or judgment.
  2. Unrestrained by law; tyrannical.
    "The Russian trials were Stalin's purges, with which he attempted to consolidate his power. Like most people in the West, I believed these show trials to be the arbitrary acts of a cruel dictator." (Max Born, Letters to Einstein)
  3. Determined by impulse rather than reason; heavy-handed.
  4. (Template loop detected: Template:context 1) Not based on any objective distinction; almost made at random.
    The decision to use 18 years as the legal age of adulthood was arbitrary, as both age 17 and 19 were reasonable alternatives.
  5. (mathematics) Any and all possible.
    The equation is true for an arbitrary value of x.

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