ar·bi·tra·tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən \

Definition of arbitration 

: the action of arbitrating especially : the hearing and determination of a disputed case by an arbiter a case that is in arbitration They agreed to settle the dispute by arbitration.

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Other words from arbitration

arbitrational \ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

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.

Examples of arbitration in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

More pay, more play In Major League Baseball, players with several years of experience become eligible to resort to arbitration to determine salary for the upcoming season. Kevin Lewis,, "Electoral impacts of robot workers," 13 July 2018 That lawsuit, however, also is likely to be dismissed and the case sent to arbitration, said Houston attorney Bruse Loyd. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Ex-Texans cheerleaders drop lawsuit, opt for arbitration," 11 July 2018 Lawyers for the secondary ticket service and its parent company eBay sought to have the class action case moved to arbitration. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "StubHub Must Face Lawsuit Over Hidden Fee Drip Pricing Allegations, Judge Rules," 13 June 2018 In 2012, Yaghmai represented Jeff DuBose, an ex-BJCTA employee, in a case that went to arbitration. Roy S. Johnson,, "Attorney for ex-BJCTA exec Ann August cites 'defamation' against board member," 30 Apr. 2018 Law firm Quinn Emanuel, which represented Vantage in the arbitration, this week filed a petition in federal court in Houston to enforce the judgment. Katherine Blunt, Houston Chronicle, "Driller wins $622 million arbitration award," 6 July 2018 The women wrote a letter to the company asking that the dispute go forward in open court as a class-action lawsuit, rather than in private arbitration. Fortune, "Uber Wins Appeal and Gets 15-Month License to Operate in London," 26 June 2018 Kaepernick and his ex-teammate Eric Reid are expected to ask Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to voluntarily testify about their influence over the National Football League in a case in private arbitration. Kartikay Mehrotra,, "Kaepernick to Seek Trump, Pence Testimony in Blacklist Case," 7 June 2018 The ex, Kristin Smith, and Woods are reportedly in arbitration over the aforementioned NDA, which Woods allegedly made Smith sign in 2017 after dating for two years. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Tiger Woods’s Ex-Girlfriend Reportedly Wants to Break Her NDA," 2 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arbitration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of arbitration

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arbitration

Middle English arbitracioun, borrowed from Anglo-French arbitracion, borrowed from Latin arbitrātiōn-, arbitrātiō, from arbitrārī "to consider, judge, arbitrate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action

Latin arbitratio, from arbitrari to judge, arbitrate, from arbiter onlooker, arbitrator

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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The first known use of arbitration was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for arbitration



Financial Definition of arbitration

What It Is

Arbitration is a process in which impartial parties (arbitrators) help disagreeing parties resolve a dispute. Contracts, particularly financial ones, with disputes often go to arbitration.

How It Works

In the financial world, arbitration sometimes begins with filing a statement of claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The claim describes who is involved, the nature of the problem, evidence related to the dispute, and the amount of the claim. (The arbitration process is simplified for claims below $25,000 and often does not require in-person meetings.)

Once the arbitration panel is assembled and the parties involved formally agree to abide by the panel's decision, the claimant pays for the arbitration fees and the arbitration begins. Arbitrators are usually very knowledgeable in the areas in which they arbitrate. It can take well over a year to complete the process, from filing to decision.

Why It Matters

The idea behind arbitration is to avoid long and expensive litigation. The process is generally cheaper than litigation, and it allows individuals to represent themselves more easily (though they may have legal representation if they choose).

However, financial contracts including those related to brokerage accounts, credit cards, loans, some utility contracts, etc. often contain mandatory arbitration clauses whereby the arbitration board is populated with members of an association to which the counterparty belongs. Thus, bias toward one of the parties can be a problem. Also, it is very difficult to appeal an arbitration decision (as opposed to court decisions, which are appealed all the time).

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of arbitration

: a process of settling an argument or disagreement in which the people or groups on both sides present their opinions and ideas to a third person or group


ar·bi·tra·tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən \

Kids Definition of arbitration

: the settling of a disagreement in which both sides present their arguments to a third person or group for decision

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ar·bi·tra·tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən \

Legal Definition of arbitration 

: the process of resolving a dispute (as between labor and management) or a grievance outside of the court system by presenting it to an impartial third party or panel for a decision that may or may not be binding — compare mediation

final offer arbitration

: interest arbitration in which the arbitrator must accept or reject the final offer of any party and may not decide to compromise

grievance arbitration

: arbitration of a dispute over something in an existing collective bargaining agreement

called also rights arbitration

— compare interest arbitration in this entry

interest arbitration

: arbitration of a dispute over the provisions to be entered in a new contract — compare grievance arbitration in this entry

rights arbitration

: grievance arbitration in this entry

Other words from arbitration

arbitrational \ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shə-nəl \ adjective

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