vagary

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Italian vagare (wander) and/or its source Latin vagārī (to wander), from Latin vagus (wandering). Later apparently reinterpreted in English as vague +‎ -ery but without changing the spelling.

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. Something vague.
    to speak in vagaries
  3. 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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