9 Vote

l know this is a very stupid question downer but l'm having a lot of trouble trying to figure out what is random??

l've searched the web for definitions, but they were all complicated and too long!

Can someone give me a very simple explanation for that word, please?

P.s: l don't need the meaning in Spanish!


7 Answers

10 Vote

Random means Unpredictable.

A random occurrence is an event whose time of occurrence is not predictable. For example, rain drops hit the roof (making a sound) randomly, so the sound of the drops is an irregular rhythm.

A random object is something somebody can point to, but you would not be able to predict what it will be.

A random sound is a noise or whistle or squeak, but you couldn't know in advance what pitch, loudness, or duration it would have.

The recent game Random words in Spanish. Who will win the game? confused me, because the title doesn't make sense. It is described as if the person with the most-random word could win, but there is no such thing as "most random". Something is either random, or it is not.

  • Pesta, I applaud you! Randomness isa deviation of unpredicatbility, in fact, to link up with another interesting question. - annierats Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • ¡Gracias, Annie! - pesta Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • so it's not only me who was going crazy trying to understand what was that game about! thank you so much pesta :) - 00b6f46c Oct 16, 2011 flag
5 Vote

When it comes to natural phenomena, the word "random" is often intertwined with the idea of chance. An event whose outcome is effected by so many variables that it would be impossible to predict with accuracy is considered entirely up to chance or random. In this way, a random event can be viewed as unpredictable or unexpected.

When it comes to human behavior, Webster's has defined randomness as describing an action that is done without careful choice, thought, aim or plan. Such usage can be exemplified in phrases such as "a random remark," or "random acts of violence." Again, looking from the outside, such acts might be looked upon as unpredictable or unexpected. Taking the individual into account, one might describe such acts as impulsive or haphazard.

In recent years, I have noticed a trend amongst some groups (especially teens in the US) to use this word to describe any action or event which is able to elicit a strong reaction of surprise or astonishment from others. This use of the word "random" often leads to planned acts of randomness (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in which people will purposely say or do things that are totally unexpected or out of the ordinary in order to evoke a response (of surprise or confusion) from their peers. In this sense, the random acts or words are often synonymous with—or at least closely related to—outlandish, bizarre or strikingly unexpected behavior.

Again, this last usage is probably somewhat slangy; nonetheless, with the widespread use of the internet as a social medium, I would imagine that this usage has probably already propagated to all parts of the globe by now and may be what has caused some of your confusion.

If such usage befuddles you, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that you are not alone. I personally know of numerous native English speakers who are unfamiliar with this usage and many who are familiar with it, but who do not accept it (as "standard" English). To some degree, I can understand the hesitancy to accept this usage, as the English language is already equipped with a rich supply of readily available words to describe such actions. Moreover, looking at the traditional sense of the word, it is possible to see that such acts are, in reality, just the opposite of random or, at best, only seemingly random. That is to say that they cannot rightly be described as random as in most cases they are carefully planned or crafted by the perpetrator in order to elicit a response. At best, such actions might be described as odd, whimsical or fanciful in nature.

In any case, the game "random words in Spanish" was probably meant to convey this last meaning in that the person who started the thread likely wanted people to come up with the most unfamiliar, strange or strikingly unexpected words they could (i.e. words viewed by others as so odd that they might garner a surprised response from others).


I just realized what you said:

l've searched the web for definitions, but they were all complicated and too long!

Can someone give me a very simple explanation for that word, please?


Sorry! red face

  • Best answer yet. And it becomes simple, if one takes the time to fully understand what you wrote. - territurtle Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • I think you should maybe read Pesta's answer, no disrepect. Take aParacetamol or two, random number.. - annierats Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • I especially like your explanation of the modern idiomatic/slang use of the word.It's worth taking the time to read this as Terri says - pintor Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • Very enlightening, Ira - cogumela Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • Great answer, Ira. It deserves my vote, especially after that random D'oh at the end. :) - pesta Oct 15, 2011 flag
3 Vote

by chance

  • Sorry, but no, not at all. I won the lottery by chance. The selection was random. Ojalá. - annierats Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • simple enough! thanks! - 00b6f46c Oct 16, 2011 flag
3 Vote

In mathematics, "random," just like many other "common" notions has a very precise meaning.

The game was, indeed, ill named. And I apologize for playing with the thread moderator. downer

Basically, one way to give simple examples is to think about those random events which have an equal probability of occurring -- as all other possible outcomes (under consideration).

For example, if you toss a penny, it may end up being either heads or tails. (the event of it landing on its edge is usually not considered as one of the possible outcomes).

If you have a jar with 3 red balls and 3 black balls and you reach in and pull one out, then the color of the ball you chose could be either red or black.

The "event" of you tossing the penny, or pulling out a colored ball, is a random event. As stated above by others, you cannot predict ahead of time what the outcome will be.

Since there are entire areas of mathematics at the post-graduate level devoted to the term "random, (and related terms like random walk)," the notion of "randomness" is still being defined in mathematics by thousands of people!

I.e., right this minute, no one knows exactly what it meansexcaim

So know your question was much more sophisticated than just about any ever asked here on SD!! wink

  • Well from the mathematical side, this makes so much sense to me, thank you terri! - 00b6f46c Oct 16, 2011 flag
1 Vote

Yeah, I didn't understand that game either! grrr

1 Vote

Roger HH said

by chance

One example of this is that CD players have a random button. Each track on the CD is then played as dictated by the player and not by you.

I suppose you could say that as you chose the random button you thereby chose which track to play but this would be stretching things.

  • "Random" means it works by no known rules... As long as you don't take apart the CD player, you don't know the rules it uses to choose "Randomly", so that qualifies it as being random enough. - pesta Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • Mathemeticians and computer programmers call this "pseudo-random". - samdie Oct 15, 2011 flag
  • Makes sinc, thanks Eddy! - 00b6f46c Oct 16, 2011 flag
1 Vote

nothing specific

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