Definition of gratuitous
1a : given unearned or without recompenseb : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration has gratuitous permission to pass over private landc : costing nothing : free The restaurant provided a gratuitous appetizer.
2 : not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted gratuitous insolence a gratuitous assumption
gratuitous was our Word of the Day on 01/18/2015. Hear the podcast!
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
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of gratuitous
Latin gratuitus, from gratus grateful
First Known Use: 1656
GRATUITOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of gratuitous for English Language Learners
: not necessary or appropriate
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up gratuitous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).