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Definition based on chance or impulse (rather than upon reasoning, consistent rules, or a proper sense of fairness)
  • It was an arbitrary decision.
arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • The speed limit seems to be arbitrary. I can't imagine why it is so slow.
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • The coach arbitrarily formed two practice teams.
  • arbitrarily = based on chance or impulse
  • They resented the dictator's arbitrary rule.
  • arbitrary = impulsive (not making decisions for good reasons)
  • 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
  • arbitrary = unfair (based on chance)
  • ...establishing therein an Arbitrary government,
    Thomas Jefferson et al.  --  The Declaration of Independence
  • arbitrary = unfair (based on impulse rather than law)
  • And, since this rule appeared to be idiotic and arbitrary, she broke it on purpose day after day.
    Ford Madox Ford  --  The Good Soldier
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • What do you think, that I make up arbitrary rules?
    Simone Elkeles  --  Perfect Chemistry
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • 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
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • 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
  • arbitrarily = based on chance or impulse (rather than understanding)
  • 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
  • arbitrary = based on chance
  • Of his niece he did not think at all, nor of the arbitrary valuation of the money.
    William Faulkner  --  The Sound and the Fury
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • Now let's assign Muri an arbitrary score of ten.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Glory Road
  • arbitrary = picked at random (by chance rather than based on any reasoning)
  • 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
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • If we start being arbitrary it'll just be a shambles:
    Tom Stoppard  --  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • arbitrary = doing things based on chance or impulse
  • 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
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • "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
  • arbitrary = based on chance or impulse
  • 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
  • arbitrary = chosen at random
  • 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
  • arbitrary = based on impulse
  • Nothing Cinna designs is arbitrary.
    Suzanne Collins  --  The Hunger Games

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