vagary

noun va·ga·ry \ ˈvā-gə-rē ; və-ˈger-ē , vā- ; also ˈva-gə-rē \
Updated on: 7 Dec 2017

Definition of vagary

plural vagaries
: an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion

vagary was our Word of the Day on 04/01/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of vagary in a Sentence

  1. the vagaries of a rather eccentric, elderly lady

Recent Examples of vagary from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vagary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Wandering History of vagary

In the 16th century, if you "made a vagary" you took a wandering journey, or you figuratively wandered from a correct path by committing some minor offense. If you spoke or wrote vagaries, you wandered from a main subject. These senses hadn't strayed far from their origin, as vagary is probably based on Latin vagari, meaning "to wander." Indeed, in the 16th and 17th centuries there was even an English verb vagary that meant "to wander." Nowadays, the noun vagary is mostly used in its plural form, and vagaries have more to do with unpredictability than with wandering.

Origin and Etymology of vagary

perhaps borrowed from Latin vagārī "to wander, roam" — more at 2vagabond

Synonym Discussion of vagary

caprice, whim, vagary, crotchet mean an irrational or unpredictable idea or desire. caprice stresses lack of apparent motivation and suggests willfulness.
    • by sheer caprice she quit her job
whim implies a fantastic, capricious turn of mind or inclination.
    • an odd antique that was bought on a whim
vagary stresses the erratic, irresponsible character of the notion or desire.
    • he had been prone to strange vagaries
crotchet implies an eccentric opinion or preference.
    • a serious scientist equally known for his bizarre crotchets


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