ar·​bi·​tra·​tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio) \

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.

Other Words from arbitration

arbitrational \ ˌär-​bə-​ˈtrā-​shnəl How to pronounce arbitration (audio) , -​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 The Writers Guild told members on Thursday that an arbitration with Netflix over the 2018 Sandra Bullock film Bird Box has resulted in members receiving $42 million in previously unpaid residuals. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Aug. 2022 But courts tend not to interfere with companies and unions that have jointly approved arbitration and appeals processes, as the league and the players’ association did. New York Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Several of the nonbinding proposals deal with employment issues, from corporate efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination to how mandatory arbitration affects Tesla’s employees and workplace culture. Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2022 The arbitrator ordered the district to pay $3.2 million in compensation to Pinner Construction Inc. and its subcontractors, according to the arbitration report obtained by the Times. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Starting pitchers Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider, and Ian Anderson won’t become arbitration eligible until at least 2024, with rookie center-fielder Michael Harris II in the same situation. Dan Schlossberg, Forbes, 2 Aug. 2022 Lamet is third-year arbitration-eligible this year and could reach free agency following the 2023 season. Curt Hogg, Journal Sentinel, 1 Aug. 2022 Mancini made his major league debut late in the 2016 season and was in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the team, having agreed to a deal with a mutual option for the 2023 season during spring training to avoid arbitration. Nathan Ruiz, Baltimore Sun, 1 Aug. 2022 In March, Cuomo filed a demand for arbitration against CNN, seeking $125 million in damages for alleged unlawful termination. Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, 27 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Arbitration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for arbitration


ar·​bi·​tra·​tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio) \

Kids Definition of arbitration

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


ar·​bi·​tra·​tion | \ ˌär-bə-ˈtrā-shən How to pronounce arbitration (audio) \

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 How to pronounce arbitration (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for arbitration

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

More from Merriam-Webster on arbitration

Nglish: Translation of arbitration for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arbitration for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about arbitration


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