Word of the Week: Gratuitous

Today’s “Word of the Week” is gratuitous.  According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gratuitous means “unwarranted.”  Similarly, Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder notes that gratuitous means “not called for by the circumstances” (509).  Furthermore, something that is gratuitous can be positive or negative.  A gratuity for excellent service is obviously a good thing; however, gratuitous things can also be “seen as not only unnecessary (like a tip, which you don’t really have to give) but also unwelcome.  To insult or criticize someone gratuitously is to make a hurtful remark that’s uncalled for and undeserved.  [Additionally,] scenes in a film that you yourself might call gratuitous were, unfortunately, probably put there to attract an audience that wants to see them” (Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder 509).

Here are some additional examples of gratuitous from recent news articles.  And let’s not forget that there are good gratuitous things as well.

Atlas the Dog #1

Gratuitous Picture of Atlas #1


“I recently was able to finally see the action-packed film, The Expendables 2. It had everything I wanted in an action film: gratuitous violence, guns and Jason Statham.”  http://bit.ly/QFxXo6

“Obstruction always has been one of the goals of the Senate filibuster – often but not always to bad effect. It has been used to slow the march to war but also to slow the march to broad civil rights. For most of its history as a tactic in the Senate, the filibuster was used only in extraordinary cases because it entailed great effort and risk. Now it is a routine, risk-free, gratuitous instrument of obstruction that creates the prospect of minority rule. It’s time for reform.” http://bit.ly/XDGF86

“The Shard, London’s newest skyscraper, is the tallest building in western Europe. It pierces the sky above London Bridge, and divides opinion on the ground. Some praise its elegant lines and staggering height, while others view it as a gratuitous monument to power. Qatari power, to be precise—the State of Qatar is the majority shareholder.” http://econ.st/SUrD8f

“Also, don’t forget that everything you store on SkyDrive is subject to the Code of Conduct for Microsoft services, and that you can have your Microsoft account suspended for uploading anything that Microsoft believes to be in breach of that code. Microsoft frowns upon (among other things) material that depicts full or partial nudity, vulgarity, and gratuitous violence. Your SkyDrive account will be monitored for potential violations, and if Microsoft chooses to suspend your account, you will lose access to everything tied to your Microsoft account.” http://bit.ly/X6af7h

Atlas the Dog #2

Gratuitous Picture of Atlas #2


“At a time when gratuitous concert hall standing ovations are the norm, it is refreshing to attend a performance when the ovation is resoundingly deserved. This was the case Thursday night (Nov. 8) at Walton Arts Center for the University of Arkansas’ Schola Cantorum performance titled ‘Abendmusiken.’” http://bit.ly/T0pSbH

“When I first heard that Joe Manganiello was returning to play Brad again on How I Met Your Mother, I imagined lots of Magic Mike […] jokes and, of course, gratuitous shots of him shirtless and ab-tastic. Because when you have Joe Manganiello on set, that’s what you do right? That’s what you should do. But the first pics of the Nov. 19 episode are in, and it seems HIMYM has decided to add a few pounds and a scraggly beard.” http://glmr.me/T2GMHS

“There’s also a couple of moments that could be deemed upsetting and the producers certainly haven’t held back on the blood, making sure the show belongs squarely after the 9PM watershed. The pilot included one especially grotesque scene which seemed rather gratuitous, for me it actually slowed the pace down and seemed to have been included for the sole purpose of making the audience cringe.” http://bit.ly/SUwl5X

Gratuitous Picture of Atlas the Dog #3

Gratuitous Picture of Atlas #3


For more information on the word gratuitous, please visit the following Web sites:




Works Cited:

“Gratuitous.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 11th Ed., 2004. Print.

“Gratuitous.” Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder2nd Ed., 2010. Print.

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