va·​ga·​ry | \ˈvā-gə-rē; və-ˈger-ē, vā-; also ˈva-gə-rē \
plural vagaries

Definition of vagary 

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of vagary in a Sentence

the vagaries of a rather eccentric, elderly lady

Recent Examples on the Web

In a sport with razor-thin margins and near-imperceptible vagaries, Krueger knows both sides of the calls and the breaks. Chelsea Janes, Houston Chronicle, "John Henry Krueger turns mettle into coveted medal," 17 Feb. 2018 Given the variety of viewers and vagaries of taste, having more choices led to less clarity. John Warner,, "Thumbs down to murky star ratings: Tell us whether a book is worth reading," 10 July 2018 Nimmo, who tweets out a passage from scripture every day, could probably come up with the right Bible verse to explain the vagaries of fate or perhaps the challenge of being blessed with good fortune as his brothers struggle. Jack Dickey,, "A Reworked Swing Has Brandon Nimmo, Mets Smiling in Surprise Breakout Campaign," 20 June 2018 But bit by bit, robocars are getting better at navigating both our world and our vagaries. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Why Did the Human Cross the Road? To Confuse the Self-Driving Car," 10 July 2018 Then as now, the outdoor extravaganza was subject to the vagaries of the weather. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Things have been exploding over D.C. for decades — but not always on the 4th," 3 July 2018 Unlike its rivals, BJ’s is not a national chain, operating 200 stores in 16 states, exposing more to the vagaries of regional economies and weather. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "BJ's Wholesale Shares Jump 27% in Return to the Stock Market," 28 June 2018 The vagaries of baseball make folly of the grandiose statement, but the National League West really does look like a four-team race to the finish. Bruce Jenkins,, "Giants: No complaints about Madison Bumgarner’s sharp comeback," 5 June 2018 While Google did warn Web developers of coming changes to Chrome autoplay back in September, McClure points out on Twitter that the WebAudio vagaries that affect game developers were only added to Google's documentation in February. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "In blocking autoplay videos, Chrome is breaking many Web-based games," 8 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of vagary

1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for vagary

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

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Time Traveler for vagary

The first known use of vagary was in 1579

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More from Merriam-Webster on vagary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vagary

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Spanish Central: Translation of vagary

Nglish: Translation of vagary for Spanish Speakers

Comments on vagary

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a nest or breeding place

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