at random

random

[ran-duhm]
adjective
1.
proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern: the random selection of numbers.
2.
Statistics. of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.
3.
Building Trades.
a.
(of building materials) lacking uniformity of dimensions: random shingles.
b.
(of ashlar) laid without continuous courses.
c.
constructed or applied without regularity: random bond.
4.
Informal.
a.
unknown, unidentified, or out of place: A couple of random guys showed up at the party.
b.
odd and unpredictable in an amusing way: my totally random life.
noun
5.
Chiefly British, bank3 ( def 7b ).
adverb
6.
Building Trades. without uniformity: random-sized slates.
Idioms
7.
at random, without definite aim, purpose, method, or adherence to a prior arrangement; in a haphazard way: Contestants were chosen at random from the studio audience.

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English raundon, random < Old French randon, derivative of randir to gallop < Germanic

randomly, adverb
randomness, noun
nonrandom, adjective
nonrandomly, adverb
nonrandomness, noun


1. haphazard, chance, fortuitous.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To at random
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World English Dictionary
random (ˈrændəm)
 
adj
1.  lacking any definite plan or prearranged order; haphazard: a random selection
2.  statistics
 a.  having a value which cannot be determined but only described probabilistically: a random variable
 b.  chosen without regard to any characteristics of the individual members of the population so that each has an equal chance of being selected: random sampling
3.  informal (of a person) unknown: some random guy waiting for a bus
 
n
4.  at random in a purposeless fashion; not following any prearranged order
 
[C14: from Old French randon, from randir to gallop, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German rinnan to run]
 
'randomly
 
adv
 
'randomness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

random
"having no definite aim or purpose," 1650s, from at random (1560s), "at great speed" (thus, "carelessly, haphazardly"), alteration of M.E. randon "impetuosity, speed" (c.1300), from O.Fr. randon "rush, disorder, force, impetuosity," from randir "to run fast," from Frankish *rant "a running," from P.Gmc.
*randa (cf. O.H.G. rennen "to run," O.E. rinnan "to flow, to run"). In 1980s college student slang, it began to acquire a sense of "inferior, undesirable." Random access in ref. to computer memory is recorded from 1953.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
random   (rān'dəm)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.

  2. Relating to an event in which all outcomes are equally likely, as in the testing of a blood sample for the presence of a substance.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang Dictionary

random

adj.
1. Unpredictable (closest to mathematical definition); weird. "The system's been behaving pretty randomly."
2. Assorted; undistinguished. "Who was at the conference?" "Just a bunch of random business types."
3. (pejorative) Frivolous; unproductive; undirected. "He's just a random loser."
4. Incoherent or inelegant; poorly chosen; not well organized. "The program has a random set of misfeatures." "That's a random name for that function." "Well, all the names were chosen pretty randomly."
5. In no particular order, though deterministic. "The I/O channels are in a pool, and when a file is opened one is chosen randomly."
6. Arbitrary. "It generates a random name for the scratch file."
7. Gratuitously wrong, i.e., poorly done and for no good apparent reason. For example, a program that handles file name defaulting in a particularly useless way, or an assembler routine that could easily have been coded using only three registers, but redundantly uses seven for values with non-overlapping lifetimes, so that no one else can invoke it without first saving four extra registers. What randomness!
8. n. A random hacker; used particularly of high-school students who soak up computer time and generally get in the way.
9. n. Anyone who is not a hacker (or, sometimes, anyone not known to the hacker speaking); the noun form of sense
2. "I went to the talk, but the audience was full of randoms asking bogus questions".
10. n. (occasional MIT usage) One who lives at Random Hall. See also J. Random, some random X.
11. [UK] Conversationally, a non sequitur or something similarly out-of-the-blue. As in: "Stop being so random!" This sense equates to `hatstand', taken from the Viz comic character "Roger Irrelevant - He's completely Hatstand."
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

at random

Without order or fixed purpose, haphazardly, as in Jackson Pollock dropped paints on canvas seemingly at random. Originally this phrase meant "very speedily" and "heedlessly." Shakespeare had the present usage in 1 Henry VI (5:3): "He talks at random; sure the man is mad." [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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