• aleatory •
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Related to or characterized by gambling or taking a gamble on something. 2. Lucky, chancy, dependent on chance or fortune, at random rather than planned.
Notes: We can use the adverb aleatorily, but no one seems to have ventured near a noun like aleatoriness. This is a somewhat awkward word, so it is probably better not to try any further derivational possibilities in public. Today's Good Word is very à propos in that, quite aleatorily, this is the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year of this millennium (the third, but who pays attention to millennia?) The next such coincidence will be November 11, 2011.
In Play: The words lucky and chancy sound a bit slangy in referring to an enterprise that involves a gamble: "The manager of our softball team likes making such aleatory calls as a bunt with the bases loaded." Some people are frightened by the aleatory aspects of life while others live for them: "Henrietta tries to avoid such aleatory procedures as elections and jury trials."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes directly from Latin aleatorius, the adjective of aleator "gambler", a noun derived from alea "a die (plural: dice), a game of chance". It is related to Greek alea "an escape". Not much else is known about this root (*al-), except that it was identical or very similar to several others with meanings so remote from each other that connections cannot be reliably made. (We at alphaDictionary hope that "10" is the lucky number of everyone reading this and wish you all aleatory good fortune today. We especially wish good fortune to Gail Rallens of the Alpha Agora, who contributed today's woefully underused Good Word.)
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