1. based on or subject to individual discretion or preference or sometimes impulse or caprice
; - Example: "an arbitrary decision"- Example: "the arbitrary rule of a dictator"- Example: "an arbitrary penalty"- Example: "of arbitrary size and shape"- Example: "an arbitrary choice"- Example: "arbitrary division of the group into halves"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Arbitrary \Ar"bi*tra*ry\, a. [L. arbitrarius, fr. arbiter: cf.
F. arbitraire. See Arbiter.]
1. Depending on will or discretion; not governed by any fixed
rules; as, an arbitrary decision; an arbitrary punishment.
It was wholly arbitrary in them to do so. --Jer.
Rank pretends to fix the value of every one, and is
the most arbitrary of all things. --Landor.
2. Exercised according to one's own will or caprice, and
therefore conveying a notion of a tendency to abuse the
possession of power.
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the
ruins of liberty abused licentiousness.
3. Despotic; absolute in power; bound by no law; harsh and
unforbearing; tyrannical; as, an arbitrary prince or
Arbitrary constant, Arbitrary function (Math.), a
quantity of function that is introduced into the solution
of a problem, and to which any value or form may at will
be given, so that the solution may be made to meet special
Arbitrary quantity (Math.), one to which any value can be
assigned at pleasure.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
adj 1: based on or subject to individual discretion or
preference or sometimes impulse or caprice; "an arbitrary
decision"; "the arbitrary rule of a dictator"; "an
arbitrary penalty"; "of arbitrary size and shape"; "an
arbitrary choice"; "arbitrary division of the group into
halves" [ant: nonarbitrary, unarbitrary]
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
133 Moby Thesaurus words for "arbitrary":
absolute, absolutist, absolutistic, aristocratic, arrogant,
autarchic, authoritarian, authoritative, autocratic, autonomous,
bossy, capricious, careless, chance, chancy, cranky, crotchety,
despotic, dictatorial, discretional, discretionary, dogmatic,
domineering, doubtful, elective, erratic, fanciful, fantasied,
fantastic, feudal, flaky, freakish, free, free will, gratuitous,
grinding, harebrained, heedless, high-handed, humorsome, iffy,
imperative, imperial, imperious, impetuous, inadvertent,
inconsiderate, inconsistent, independent, indiscreet, irrational,
kinky, kooky, lordly, maggoty, magisterial, magistral, masterful,
monocratic, moody, motiveless, nonmandatory, notional, offered,
oppressive, optional, oracular, overbearing, overruling,
peremptory, petulant, precipitate, proffered, quirky, random, rash,
reasonless, repressive, screwball, self-acting, self-active,
self-determined, self-determining, severe, spontaneous, strict,
subjective, summary, suppressive, temperamental, thoughtless,
tyrannical, tyrannous, unasked, unbesought, unbidden,
uncalculating, uncalled-for, uncertain, uncoerced, uncompelled,
uncompromising, unconstrained, undisciplined, unforced, unguarded,
uninfluenced, uninvited, unpredictable, unpressured, unprompted,
unreasonable, unreasoning, unreflecting, unrequested, unrequired,
unrestrained, unruly, unsolicited, unsought, unthinking,
unthoughtful, vagarious, vagrant, varying, voluntary, volunteer,
wanton, wayward, whimsical, wild, willful, zany
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
ARBITRARY. What depends on the will of the judge, not regulated or
established by law. Bacon (Aphor. 8) says, Optima lex quae minimum relinquit
arbitrio judicis et (Aph. 46) optimus judex, qui mi nimum sibi
2. In all well adjusted systems of law every thing is regulated, and
nothing arbitrary can be allowed; but there is a discretion which is
sometimes allowed by law which leaves the judge free to act as he pleases to
a certain extent. See Discretion