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I want to compare two things, one of which is random and the other is not, in favor of the latter. I'd like to do it in a more sophisticated way than simply using the word "random".

Like, for example,

In this case, your pay will not depend on the roll of the dice.

But Google Ngrams doesn't find a single occurrence of "depend on the roll of the dice", so I guess there's something wrong with this particular phrase. What would be a better substitute?

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I like the phrase which you have made. Why do you want to replace it with something else? Nice enough to make sense. :) –  Persian Cat Feb 12 '13 at 12:34
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are many metaphoric phrases to indicate randomness, several of which relate to gaming

toss of a coin
flip of a coin
throw of a dart
spin of the wheel
luck of the draw
cut of the cards
your guess is as good as mine

Some expressing lack of control suggest futility

chaff in (on) the wind
a drop in the ocean
like looking for a needle in a haystack
snowball's chance in hell
a face in the crowd

Phrases suggesting a causation, rather than lack thereof, tend toward other images often based on scientific or mechanistic processes or human industry

laser-like precision
as sure as night follows day
in lock-step
you reap what you sow
you get what you pay for
what goes around comes around
you can bank on it
like clockwork
"If you build it, he will come" (reference to the movie Field of Dreams based on the novel Shoeless Joe)

A few dependability references do use gambling metaphors

bet your bottom dollar
a sure thing
ace in the hole (implying you have a hidden advantage)
a safe bet

Some are based on questions, occasionally scatalogical

Is the Pope Catholic?
Does a bear shit in the woods?
Does a tiger have stripes?
Will the sun rise tomorrow?

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I guess the precise antonym to random is deterministic but you may prefer to go for some less scientific terms: predictable, systematic, methodical.

As for other words for Random, Thesaurus suggests some nice alternatives on top of simple antonyms of the above: arbitrary, accidental, irregular, chance

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Thanks, but instead of just a one-word antonym, I'd like to use some kind of a phrase or an idiom (similar to what I wrote in the question) to make the text more pleasant to read. –  R C Feb 12 '13 at 11:54
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arbitrary: Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

In this case, your pay will not be arbitrary.

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NGrams has a limit on how large a phrase can be. We certainly can see variants of the last part of that phrase being used, though it's hard to tell how many are literal and how many figurative.

Still your phrase would certainly be understood.

I might be a bit alarmed at the fact that the possibility of pay being random was mentioned, so it may be better to focus on the pay being not only predictable, but fair.

But if the context had already set up that possibility, then your expression works perfectly.

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Thank you. My actual object is not pay, but it's the best example I could come up with that is easy to understand. –  R C Feb 12 '13 at 11:50
    
The expression certainly works. The strict opposite of random is deterministic, and often we mean predictable, so they're other options. Most often we don't mean random in so precise a sense, and fair, understandable, "related to X" and so on are also useful. But the "roll of the dice" phrase is a nice image, and not so heavily over-used as to be tiring IMO. –  Jon Hanna Feb 12 '13 at 11:52
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Your pay is "Fixed" or "Static".

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