ar·​bi·​tra·​tion ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio)
: 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.
arbitrational adjective

Did you know?

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 That basically means Vargas would have played at least the three years necessary to qualify for salary arbitration, and that is unlikely. Vargas, signed out of the Dominican Republic, was not drafted. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2024 Bloomberg reports that the case will be going to arbitration in France soon. Melvin Backman, Quartz, 3 Apr. 2024 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce G. Iwasaki denied a request for Poche and her lawyers, Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos, to avoid arbitration in the lawsuit, according to a press release from the production company. Joelle Goldstein, Peoplemag, 22 Mar. 2024 The terms of service for companies including Sony PlayStation, Vizio and Hulu include similar language about arbitration, and those companies also require consumers to mail a letter to opt out of those terms. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2024 Although Davis was awarded a $6.9 million salary after an arbitration hearing, under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, arbitration-eligible players’ contracts are only guaranteed if they’re not decided by an arbitration panel. Jon Becker, The Mercury News, 17 Mar. 2024 One agent in the Arise network who won in arbitration, Tami Pendergraft, paid about $1,500 for home office equipment, paid for a background check and training, devoted 44 unpaid days to passing a certification course, and then worked three weeks fielding telephone calls from AT&T customers. Justin Elliott, ProPublica, 14 Mar. 2024 The other was dismissed after being sent to arbitration, and terms of its resolution were not part of the public record. Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Mar. 2024 According to the arbitration filing, Ascential provided him with a $1.5 million discretionary fund budget paid upfront each year to MEK, Inc. to net him $950,000 after taxes, which is allegedly still in effect following MediaLink’s sale to UTA. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arbitration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near arbitration

Cite this Entry

“Arbitration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ar·​bi·​tra·​tion ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio)
: the act of arbitrating
especially : the settling of a dispute in which both sides present their arguments to a third person or group for settlement

Legal Definition


ar·​bi·​tra·​tion ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio)
: 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
arbitrational adjective

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

More from Merriam-Webster on arbitration

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