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 Since then, the outlet reported, her legal team has been unsuccessful in multiple attempts to find a date with Elfman's lawyers for arbitration. Jack Irvin, Peoplemag, 12 July 2024 According to a member message, the settlement resulted from an arbitration claim that the union filed for writers on MacGyver, Seal Team and Hawaii 5-0. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 July 2024 One recently filed arbitration claim was on behalf of writers on the CBS shows MacGyver, Seal Team, and Hawaii 5-0. Erik Pedersen, Deadline, 10 July 2024 Chevron has warned its deal with Hess would terminate if Exxon prevails in arbitration court. Brian Evans,lisa Kailai Han, CNBC, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for arbitration 

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 25 Jul. 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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