I'm looking for a word that describes a choice made without reason, but that has a neutral-to-positive connotation. I had always thought that "arbitrary" is inherently neutral, but in practice I've found most people take it pejoratively regardless of the context.

My idea is to encourage someone to make a choice without encouraging creativity, to relieve the pressure of a decision without discouraging personal intention, i.e. to say that the choice can be meaningful or meaningless. The best I can think of so far is "random" but I'm unsure if the positive meaning is conveyed when written.

closed as off-topic by TrevorD, ab2, Drew, user66974, Phil Sweet Jul 29 '16 at 14:43

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  • 2
    Can you use it in an example sentence – user180089 Jul 28 '16 at 21:39
  • Capricious? Whimsical? Mercurial? – Dan Bron Jul 28 '16 at 21:56
  • 1
    Please note: For single-word requests: "To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. YOU MUST INCLUDE A SAMPLE SENTENCE DEMONSTRATING HOW THE WORD WOULD BE USED;" See english.stackexchange.com/tags/single-word-requests/info – TrevorD Jul 28 '16 at 22:36
  • Perhaps it’s an inconsequential decision – Jim Jul 29 '16 at 2:00
  • arbitrary can be neutral, negative, or positive. Depends on the context, and you have provided none. A priori, it is neutral. – Drew Jul 29 '16 at 4:11

I think the word you're looking for is arbitrary. I'm not sure why you have a negative connotation with it, but I don't think most American English speakers do.

  • Really, not even a down vote, but a vote to delete? – Andy Jul 29 '16 at 22:08

The usage that you want is for a special situation where one has nothing to lose.

A suitable word then, is pick. You can say:

"take your pick"

From oxforddictionaries.com:

pick NOUN

1 [IN SINGULAR] An act or the right of selecting something from a number of alternatives: take your pick from our extensive menu; Laura should have first pick.

From TFD:

take your pick: to choose what you want

We've got tea, coffee, or hot chocolate - take your pick.

From dictionary.cambridge.org:

take your pick:​ choose any one you want: You can take your pick of any dessert on the cart.


Assuming your original sentence with arbitrary went something like this...

"Make an arbitrary choice"

I would opt for

"The choice is yours"

This conveys that neutral to positive effect you were searching for I would say, you are affirming the choice is theirs to make, that's a positive message ; and you are highlighting the fact that there is a choice to be made here.

There is also a sense of almost 'shrugging your shoulders' with this idiom as well and a sense of 'over to you'. I think it suits your situation well.


What about a free choice or a freely-chosen ....(topic/whatever you have in mind...) ? In the meaning

Able to be done as one wishes; not under the control of another (Oxford Dict.)

PS: I think you should really provide an example sentence that would give more context.

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