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ran·​dom ˈran-dəm How to pronounce random (audio)
: lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern
: made, done, or chosen at random
read random passages from the book
: relating to, having, or being elements or events with definite probability of occurrence
random processes
: being or relating to a set or to an element of a set each of whose elements has equal probability of occurrence
a random sample
also : characterized by procedures designed to obtain such sets or elements
random sampling
randomly adverb


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: a haphazard course


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: in a random manner
at random
: without definite aim, direction, rule, or method
subjects chosen at random
Choose the Right Synonym for random

random, haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design.

random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

a random selection of books

haphazard applies to what is done without regard for regularity or fitness or ultimate consequence.

a haphazard collection of rocks

casual suggests working or acting without deliberation, intention, or purpose.

a casual collector

Examples of random in a Sentence

Adjective a random sequence of letters A random sample of doctors from around the country were selected for the study. We tasted the wines in random order and then rated each. a random collection of buttons She collects random photographs that she finds in antique shops. Pick a random word on the page. The computer program generates a list of random numbers. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
What to Expect With a Fasting Blood Glucose Test An oral glucose tolerance test or a random blood sugar test are also sometimes, but less commonly, used to diagnose prediabetes. Danielle Weiss, Verywell Health, 16 Feb. 2024 Also, every studio needs a big tub of random percussion instruments and bells and rattles and blocks that are great to mess around with and invariably find their way onto scores just to liven things up. Lily Moayeri, SPIN, 15 Feb. 2024 Next was a box of men’s flannel shirts, then, over time, more than 20 other random items. Lisa M. Krieger, The Mercury News, 15 Feb. 2024 Ali’s random acts of kindness have been so frequent — and so quiet — that Fraser is hesitant to reveal many of them, lest someone take advantage of her sister. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 The department said preliminary information indicates the incident was not a random act of violence. Jeff A. Chamer, Charlotte Observer, 15 Feb. 2024 Beretta’s 32 products with coppa range from 4-ounce packs of Dry Coppa to random weight hunks of Sweet Coppa to antipasto combination packs that include coppa. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 14 Feb. 2024 Snippets had played throughout the soundtrack of my life as a child and teen — the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, random cartoons, commercials for United Airlines, cameos in Disney productions. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2024 Additionally, each record will include at random one of eight collectible PhotoTickets of the ATEEZ members: Hongjoong, Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung and Jongho. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 5 Feb. 2024
Before each hearing, nine examiner names are picked at random by drawing balls from a spherical container, according to Richard Tefank, the Police Commission executive director. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 17 Mar. 2023 Your cryptography is thus only as strong as the random that supports it. Denis Mandich, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 Each kentuki has two users: the keeper, who owns the toy, and the dweller, a volunteer assigned at random who controls it remotely, via software interface, from elsewhere in the world. J. Robert Lennon, New York Times, 5 May 2020 The village of Blackhall Colliery in County Durham became a global spectacle when large sums of money began appearing at random near the main street in 2014. Fox News, 15 Jan. 2020 Tilleson said the city and police expects to conduct up to four random directed patrol missions in East Tosa in the coming year. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Nov. 2019 Oregon State is also launching a four-week effort to collect samples at random from nearly 1,000 residents in Corvallis. oregonlive, 18 Apr. 2020 This is typically slow because the electron has to hop from site to site in a kind of random, drift-like fashion. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 13 Mar. 2020 What her doctor said next surprised her: Amanda had likely entered perimenopause, the five to 10 years leading up to menopause when hormones start to go haywire, spiking and dipping seemingly at random. Meryl Davids Landau, Woman's Day, 27 Jan. 2020
There’s one really random one called Mindicine that a postpartum therapist recommended. Collier Meyerson, WIRED, 16 Aug. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'random.' 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, succession, surge, from Anglo-French randun, from Old French randir to run, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German rinnan to run — more at run

First Known Use


1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1561, in the meaning defined above


1618, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of random was in 1561

Dictionary Entries Near random

Cite this Entry

“Random.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/random. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: showing no clear plan, purpose, or pattern
a random arrangement
: having a definite and especially an equal probability of occurring
a random number
randomly adverb
randomness noun

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