gratuitous

adjective
gra·​tu·​i·​tous | \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-\

Definition of gratuitous 

1 : not called for by the circumstances : not necessary, appropriate, or justified : unwarranted a gratuitous insult a gratuitous assumption a movie criticized for gratuitous violence

2a : given unearned or without recompense We mistake the gratuitous blessings of Heaven for the fruits of our own industry.— Roger L'Estrange

b : costing nothing : free It was printed in France at the author's expense, for gratuitous distribution to educators and others.Current Biography

c law : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration has gratuitous permission to pass over private land

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Other Words from gratuitous

gratuitously adverb
gratuitousness noun

These Gratuitous Facts Are Free

Like gratitude, grace, and congratulate, gratuitous is a descendant of the Latin word gratus, which means "pleasing" or "grateful." When gratuitous was first used in the middle of the 17th century, it meant "free" or "given without return benefit or compensation." The extended meaning "done without good reason" or "unwarranted" came about just a few decades later, perhaps from the belief held by some people that one should not give something without getting something in return. Today, that extended meaning is the more common sense, often used in such phrases as "a gratuitous insult" or to describe elements of a story that are not relevant to the plot.

Examples of gratuitous in a Sentence

The film was criticized for its gratuitous violence. they will throw in a gratuitous box of chocolates when you spend $30 or more in their shop

Recent Examples on the Web

All that gratuitous speed doesn't take away from the Model 3's obsession with squeezing every mile out of its batteries. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "My 72 Hours With the Tesla Model 3 Performance Edition," 13 Sep. 2018 Honestly, the new faceted design is a bit gratuitous, as a USB-C slot at the side or rear of the notebook is just fine. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) hands on: 'Whiskey Lake' power sits alongside 22 hours of battery life," 23 Oct. 2018 Disenchantment does not indulge in any vulgarity, nudity, gratuitous violence, or other FCC-enraging practices. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Disenchantment review: Groening’s new Netflix toon is off to a bloody good start," 7 Aug. 2018 There might be a case for avoiding contaminating the American flag with the emblem of an odious regime if it is done for purely gratuitous reasons. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Flag fetishists freak out over summit stage design.," 12 June 2018 The scenes of violence against women are critical to the points of the shows, and not usually gratuitous or exploitive. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s Emmy drama in the face-off between two of this year’s very best," 12 July 2018 The runner-up is aforementioned guys-night-out art party, which felt gratuitous and fake, through and through. Mike Scott, NOLA.com, "'Southern Charm New Orleans,' Episode 2: Champagne cocktails and nude models," 23 Apr. 2018 The culprit, more often than not: a gratuitous amount of pitching changes. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres serve up seven Twins home runs in 16-0 shellacking," 13 Sep. 2017 Nonsensical twists, bad speeches, and so, so much death, multiple bodies in every movie, the pile-up somehow both tedious and gratuitous. Jason Kehe, WIRED, "Sci-Fi Invades Netflix—as They Both Invade Your Home," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gratuitous.' 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 gratuitous

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gratuitous

Latin gratuitus, from gratus grateful

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Dictionary Entries near gratuitous

gratters

grattoir

gratuital

gratuitous

gratuity

gratulant

gratulate

Statistics for gratuitous

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for gratuitous

The first known use of gratuitous was in 1656

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More Definitions for gratuitous

gratuitous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of gratuitous

: not necessary or appropriate

gratuitous

adjective
gra·​tu·​i·​tous | \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü- \

Legal Definition of gratuitous 

: not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration — compare onerous

Other Words from gratuitous

gratuitously adverb

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