General Question

susanc's avatar

What do we mean when we say "random"?

Asked by susanc (16134points) July 7th, 2008

It used to mean “not in a category” or “casual”. Now it seems to mean “possibly illegitimate” or “unknown”. Am I getting this?

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9 Answers

wildflower's avatar

Unpredictable, unforeseen, odd, unexpected, coincidental, not following a logical path….
That’s along the lines of how I’d interpret “random”.

My Mac OS X Thesaurus says:
random spot checks unsystematic, unmethodical, arbitrary, unplanned, undirected, casual, indiscriminate, nonspecific, haphazard, stray, erratic; chance, accidental. antonym systematic.

dingus108's avatar

I’m not quite sure what your question is… I’ve got typical valley kids at my school who will use just about any word to describe anything until that word gets unpopular… Right now, random is a very very popular word and kids piss me off when they use it at a time when not even necessary..

Group of kids: “like, I so love those headlights on the brand new mustangs!!!”

Me: “I like the tail lights on em too, they’re pretty cool..”

Group of kids: “That was random…”

Me: “no it wasn’t, we were all talking about mustangs, just cuz I started talking about a different part of the SAME vehicle, doesn’t mean it was random..”

That kind of random? Or a different kind?

BTW, sorry for that lengthy rant on generalized and clich├ęd valley kids…

cage's avatar

random is my sense of humour. Bit strange and can take you by surprise.

ccatron's avatar

something that was not expected

drhat77's avatar

random means that no direct cause-effect relationship can be made with the thing that came right before the random item

- unlike the mustang in dingus108’s story, where a cause-effect relationship can be established, despite the kids blurt of “random!”

robmandu's avatar

@susanc, Random does not mean those definitions you provided… at least not formally.

Perhaps you’ve got some context or example of a colloquialism to put your question in a better light?

gailcalled's avatar

Statistically, the chances of tossing a coin an infinite number of times are that heads will show up 50% and tails the other 50%.

However, if you toss a coin only once, which side will land face up is random.

Rock, paper, scissors is statistically 3!, but that doesn’t help you decide what to do each time.

osullivanbr's avatar

In the context of this conversation, I’d say that was random

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