gratuitous

adjective
gra·​tu·​i·​tous | \ grə-ˈtü-ə-təs How to pronounce gratuitous (audio) , -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

Synonyms for gratuitous

Synonyms

complimentary, costless, free, gratis

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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

Albery and collaborator Laurence Cummings add three gratuitous murders at the end. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Coming-of-age story packs an emotional wallop with its premiere at opera festival," 18 June 2019 Kumail Nanjiani voices Pawny, a mini-sidekick alien who would make an Ewok squirm over the gratuitous cuteness. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Where is heck is Will Smith in 'Men In Black: International' and other burning questions," 13 June 2019 Hell, people theme their weddings around Game of Thrones, a show that depicted a ton of fairly gratuitous rape. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner's Handmaid's Tale Party Sends a Terrifying Message," 12 June 2019 Of course, the change is obvious when looking at Star Trek's latest show, Discovery, where gratuitous violence (and terrible writing) is commonplace. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "An R-Rating Is the Last Thing Star Trek Needs Right Now," 12 June 2019 Admittedly, Colorado is by no means a big offender among states for gratuitous licensing. Vincent Carroll, The Denver Post, "Carroll: Polis’ three good vetoes are a warning to lawmakers about government restraint," 9 June 2019 The gratuitous ding letter taught him two lessons that have served him well in life: always show grit and never take yourself too seriously. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "How to Handle Rejection When You Never Applied," 3 Mar. 2019 With Covington and now this, a rush to judgment rooted in a false view of this country’s values produced, as Chief Johnson noted, more gratuitous anxiety and polarization. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Smollett Hoaxers," 21 Feb. 2019 Yet television's recent history is bloated with gratuitous rape sequences written and directed by men. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Isn't a Woman Directing My Brilliant Friend?," 5 Apr. 2017

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

23 Jun 2019

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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

formal : not necessary or appropriate

gratuitous

adjective
gra·​tu·​i·​tous | \ grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü- How to pronounce gratuitous (audio) \

Legal Definition of gratuitous

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

Other Words from gratuitous

gratuitously adverb

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