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It was an arbitrary decision.
  based on chance or impulse (rather than upon reasoning, consistent rules, or a proper sense of fairness)
 Mark word for later review on this computer
arbitrary arbitrarily arbitrariness
Do not confuse "arbitrary" with "arbitration" (a legal concept describing the hearing and determination of a dispute by an impartial referee).
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  • It was an arbitrary decision.
  • The speed limit seems to be arbitrary. I can’t imagine why it is so slow.
  • They resented the dictator’s arbitrary rule.
  • The coach arbitrarily formed two practice teams.

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  • After the meal, the zugangi were lined up again in what seemed to Hannah to be a totally arbitrary order, orchestrated by the same three-fingered woman.
    Jane Yolen  --  The Devils Arithmetic
  • ...establishing therein an Arbitrary government,
    Thomas Jefferson et al.  --  The Declaration of Independence
  • If we start being arbitrary it’ll just be a shambles:
    Tom Stoppard  --  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • The trickles of money he sent back were not premeditated like those sent by his other friends, calculated from what he needed to survive; these were arbitrary sums that often left him broke and borrowing until the next payday.
    Junot Diaz  --  Drown
  • What do you think, that I make up arbitrary rules?
    Simone Elkeles  --  Perfect Chemistry
  • I arbitrarily punch buttons on the control board and end up hopping from foot to foot as alternating jets of icy cold and steaming hot water assault me.
    Suzanne Collins  --  The Hunger Games

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  • My neighbors and teachers, friends and family, circled an arbitrary spot not far from where I’d been killed. My father, sister, and brother heard the singing again once they were outside.
    Alice Sebold  --  The Lovely Bones
  • To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success, the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history, with a society that provides opportunities for all.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • And yet she’s firmly persuaded that I’m an arbitrary overbearing bossing kind of person.
    George Bernard Shaw  --  Pygmalion
  • Now I saw that one man was to be bound by it, but the other was not, one was to obey a rule, the other was to assert an arbitrary wish-his need-and the law was to stand on the side of the wish.
    Ayn Rand  --  Atlas Shrugged
  • "A most arbitrary, if not a hasty decision!" exclaimed Heyward, undecided whether to give vent to his growing anger, or to laugh in the other’s face.
    James Fenimore Cooper  --  The Last of the Mohicans
  • Having an advocate on the inside—someone who had gotten to know me and understood my story on a personal level—had obviously helped. It made me think deeply about the way privilege and preference work in the world, and how many kids who didn’t have "luck" like mine in this instance would find themselves forever outside the ring of power and prestige. So many opportunities in this country are apportioned in this arbitrary and miserly way, distributed to those who already have the benefit of a privileged legacy.
    Wes Moore  --  The Other Wes Moore
  • And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost.
    Kate Chopin  --  The Awakening
  • I kept arguing with him that he was not really pushing out the extension of the human range—it was too arbitrary.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  Tender is the Night
  • Of his niece he did not think at all, nor of the arbitrary valuation of the money.
    William Faulkner  --  The Sound and the Fury
  • At the time of Billy Budd’s arbitrary enlistment into the Indomitable that ship was on her way to join the Mediterranean fleet.
    Herman Melville  --  Billy Budd
  • And, since this rule appeared to be idiotic and arbitrary, she broke it on purpose day after day.
    Ford Madox Ford  --  The Good Soldier
  • It seemed unnecessarily cruel to make an old man wear a cap sideways like that and arbitrarily re-order the way in which age chose to hang from his chin.
    Arundhati Roy  --  The God of Small Things
  • Now let’s assign Muri an arbitrary score of ten.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road
  • "That’s a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of—"
    Ayn Rand  --  Atlas Shrugged
  • Players are judged on their own performance, not on anyone else’s, and on the basis of their ability, not on some other arbitrary fact.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • GUIL: We can’t afford anything quite so arbitrary.
    Tom Stoppard  --  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • Why did my plans for my own future have to depend upon the arbitrary opinion of a selfish monopolist? I wasn’t going to stand for that.
    Ayn Rand  --  Atlas Shrugged
  • It’s outlandish that our arbitrary choice of cutoff dates is causing these long-lasting effects, and no one seems to care about them.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • It was a story of how the outliers in a particular field reached their lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity, and utterly arbitrary advantage.
    Malcolm Gladwell  --  Outliers
  • I still thought it was completely bizarre that once upon a time people lived with these limiting but arbitrary labels on their backs.
    Kiera Cass  --  The Heir
  • The Court prohibited jurors from hearing "victim impact" statements because they were too inflammatory and introduced arbitrariness into the capital sentencing process.
    Bryan Stevenson  --  Just Mercy
  • For tomorrow, you may prepare a report on the development of the sympathy clock, its differences from the previous, more arbitrary clocks that used harmonic motion, and its effect on the accurate treatment of time.
    Patrick Rothfuss  --  The Name of the Wind
  • But as is your character, I’m afraid, you are satisfied with leaving things to tenuous chance and hope and faith in the arbitrary.
    Chang-rae Lee  --  A Gesture Life
  • He was very old, every organ in his body had long since betrayed him, and most of his important decisions regarding Florin had a certain arbitrary quality that bothered many of the leading citizens.
    William Goldman  --  The Princess Bride
  • And there between Friml and fringe he read: frindle (frin’ dl) n. a device used to write or make marks with ink [arbitrary coinage; originated by Nicholas Allen, American, 1987— (see pen)] Nick went back to the note from Mrs. Granger.
    Andrew Clements  --  Frindle
  • I rank my choices arbitrarily, inserting numbers next to names: Phinneas Jonston (1), Chris McDonnell (2), Brian Scharff (3), Edward Wung (4).
    Lauren Oliver  --  Delirium
  • Without always knowing what we were doing, we were constantly adjusting to the arbitrariness by which we were surrounded.
    V.S. Naipaul  --  A Bend in the River
  • We stood together, in this case at least, on the same side of that grim and arbitrary line.
    Diana Gabaldon  --  Outlander
  • Though I had credit cards I was determined not to use them—another arbitrary rule in the game I’d devised for myself, a completely irrational precaution because who was I kidding? what did it matter, a couple of sandwiches at a convenience shop, when they already had my card at the hotel?
    Donna Tartt  --  The Goldfinch
  • The Laws handed down by the Angel are arbitrary and nonsensical, and their punishments are worse.
    Cassandra Clare  --  City of Lost Souls
  • But there’s an authoritative tone to her voice that makes you feel her appointment wasn’t arbitrary.
    Suzanne Collins  --  Mockingjay
  • It is an act of injustice—to every human being on earth whom you rob of the affection arbitrarily granted to one.
    Ayn Rand  --  The Fountainhead
  • At first it seems arbitrary, then I see a pattern, like an intricate maze, appearing in the moonlight on Beetee’s side.
    Suzanne Collins  --  Catching Fire
  • I started thinking about them running their hurdle races, and jumping over these totally arbitrary objects that had been set in their path.
    John Green  --  The Fault in Our Stars
  • She said there was comfort to be found in the permanence of mathematical truths, in the lack of arbitrariness and the absence of ambiguity.
    Khaled Hosseini  --  And The Mountains Echoed
  • If we employ an arbitrary symbol, and pay, say, five dollars a day for farm work, then the cost of a bushel of wheat is fifty cents.
    Upton Sinclair  --  The Jungle
  • He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else.
    Bram Stoker  --  Dracula
  • His moods were arbitrary and unpredictable.
    Joseph Heller  --  Catch-22
  • This explains the fact that in some places the frontiers between the superstates are arbitrary.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • The Institute for War Documentation has arbitrarily assigned initials to those persons wishing to remain anonymous.
    Anne Frank  --  The Diary of a Young Girl
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Associated words [difficulty]:   arbitrary [2]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Law, Public Policy & Politics, Engineering, Logic & Reasoning, Science
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