Definition of arbiter
1 : a person with power to decide a dispute : judge The mayor will act as the final arbiter in any dispute between board members.
2 : a person or agency whose judgment or opinion is considered authoritative arbiters of taste
Recent Examples of arbiter from the Web
In that sense, obscure consular officials such as Sousa Mendes became crucial gatekeepers, arbiters of fates.
Terri Valenti, who has worked on instant replay for the NFL for the past five years, was promoted to the role of the officials who are part of each of the 17 crews of rules arbiters.
Above all, first ladies have been arbiters of culture in Washington and beyond.
Because the manual is the official arbiter of diagnosable mental disorders, the deletion represented a sea change in thinking by the mainstream community of mental health professionals.
The abiding principle of the GFA is that the governments of both Great Britain and Eire must remain neutral arbiters as the two sides in the North work out their differences.
In February, Gering decided a jury should be the arbiters.
When judging revenue neutrality, policy makers will need to rely on a credible, impartial arbiter, like the Congressional Budget Office.
Within the zone of cooperation, the usual frictions and disagreements of international life were to be managed by rules, especially trade rules, adjudicated by neutral arbiters.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arbiter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Are arbiter and arbitration arbitrary?
A large portion of the words we use today come from Latin roots. Many of these words retain a meaning that is closely related to their Latin ancestor, although sometimes they will drift a considerable distance from their roots (sinister, for instance, had the meaning of “on the left side” in Latin, but also meant “unlucky, inauspicious”). In some instances, a single Latin word will give rise to multiple words in English, some of which have strayed in meaning, and others which have not.
An example of this may be found in our word arbiter. We trace it to the Latin root with the same spelling, arbiter, meaning “eyewitness, onlooker, person appointed to settle a dispute.” A number of English words stem from the Latin arbiter, many of which have to do with judging or being a judge. An arbiter is a judge, and arbitration is the act of judging, or serving as an arbiter. Yet the most common meaning of arbitrary is “existing or coming about seemingly at random or by chance or as a capricious and unreasonable act of will,” which seems to be quite a bit different in meaning from the other two words. Arbitrary does indeed come from the same Latin root, and its oldest meaning in English was “depending on choice or discretion particularly regarding the decision of a judge or a tribunal.” But over time it developed additional senses that are somewhat removed from that initial meaning.
Origin and Etymology of arbiter
Middle English arbitour, arbitre, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin arbiter “eyewitness, onlooker, person appointed to settle a dispute,” perhaps, if going back to *ad-biteros, from ad- ad- + *-biteros, derivative from a base *-bit- akin to bītere, baetere, bētere “to go,” of obscure origin
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Origin and Etymology of arbiter
Latin, onlooker, arbitrator
Seen and Heard
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