vagary

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin vagus (wandering).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

vagary (plural vagaries)

  1. An erratic, unpredictable occurrence or action.
    • 1871, Charles Kingsley, At Last: A Christmas In The West Indies, ch. 8:
      It now turns out that the Pitch Lake, like most other things, owes its appearance on the surface to no convulsion or vagary at all, but to a most slow, orderly, and respectable process of nature, by which buried vegetable matter, which would have become peat, and finally brown coal, in a temperate climate, becomes, under the hot tropic soil, asphalt and oil.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “Anglo-Indian slang in dictionaries on historical principles”, in World Englishes, volume 37, page 251:
      This searching was facilitated by the author's knowledge of the vagaries of Anglo-Indian spelling and the numerous colonial-era transliteration systems used for loanwords from Indian languages.
    • 2020 December 3, Cade Metz; Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Google Researcher Says She Was Fired Over Paper Highlighting Bias in A.I.”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      These systems learn the vagaries of language by analyzing enormous amounts of text, including thousands of books, Wikipedia entries and other online documents.
  2. An impulsive or illogical desire; a caprice or whim.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:whim
    • 1905, Jack London, War of the Classes, Preface:
      And then came the day when my socialism grew respectable,—still a vagary of youth, it was held, but romantically respectable.

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