At random

proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern:
the random selection of numbers.
Statistics. of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.
Building Trades.

(of building materials) lacking uniformity of dimensions:
random shingles.
(of ashlar) laid without continuous courses.
constructed or applied without regularity:
random bond.


unknown, unidentified, or out of place:
A couple of random guys showed up at the party.
odd and unpredictable in an amusing way:
my totally random life.

Chiefly British, 3 (def 7b).
Building Trades. without uniformity:
random-sized slates.
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.
lacking any definite plan or prearranged order; haphazard: a random selection

having a value which cannot be determined but only described probabilistically: a random variable
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

(informal) (of a person) unknown: some random guy waiting for a bus
at random, in a purposeless fashion; not following any prearranged order

“having no definite aim or purpose,” 1650s, from at random (1560s), “at great speed” (thus, “carelessly, haphazardly”), alteration of Middle English noun randon “impetuosity, speed” (c.1300), from Old French randon “rush, disorder, force, impetuosity,” from randir “to run fast,” from Frankish *rant “a running” or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *randa (cf. Old High German rennen “to run,” Old English rinnan “to flow, to run;” see run (v.)).

In 1980s U.S. college student slang it began to acquire a sense of “inferior, undesirable.” (A 1980 William Safire column describes it as a college slang noun meaning “person who does not belong on our dormitory floor.”) Random access in reference to computer memory is recorded from 1953. Related: Randomly; randomness.

Relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution.

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.

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 ]
see: at random


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