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The current version of the vocabulary builder covers over 2720 words & is useful for students preparing for academic English examinations such as SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. Now you can also listen to the pronunciation of words. - Refer a Friend.

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arbitrary (adj) (of a decision, a rule, a selection, an action, etc.) based on one's own choice, likes and dislikes, and not on the basis of any principle.

When you take a decision affecting others, make a choice, take action, make a rule, etc., based on you own opinions, likes and dislikes, not according to any principle, the decisions, choices, actions, rules, etc., so taken are arbitrary. To be arbitrary is to disregard all principles guiding an action or a decision. It is being whimsical.

  • The arbitrary actions of Saddam Hussein, the US claims, give it sufficient reason for interfering in Iraq's affairs.
  • In the olden days, the laws made by the kings were according to their will and pleasure, and so, arbitrary. And the people always lived in fear of the arbitrary actions of the kings.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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