Definition of gratuitous in US English:



  • 1Uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted.

    ‘gratuitous violence’
    • ‘And indeed, it's hard to imagine a device that inflicts more gratuitous damage on the environment.’
    • ‘The violence was gratuitous and appalling, but the film could be dismissed as essentially cartoonish.’
    • ‘The violence gets fairly gratuitous, but again, depending on your taste, maybe that's a selling point.’
    • ‘The gratuitous gossip included claims of domestic violence, adultery and abusive relationships.’
    • ‘There are people who turn out for these things solely to indulge in a bit of gratuitous violence, hoping it'll spread.’
    • ‘In other words, humour should be neither gratuitous nor excessive, but judicious.’
    • ‘Once you've got over all the rampant misogyny and gratuitous, comic-book violence, it's an entertaining night in.’
    • ‘I don't think there's an audience for gratuitous blasphemy or for gratuitous swearing - because it's boring.’
    • ‘These are the people who like to censor rap lyrics and condemn gratuitous violence, and the violence here seems pretty gratuitous.’
    • ‘Extreme violence, at times gratuitous, is a recurring motif in his early films.’
    • ‘He will be shown gratuitous sex and graphic violence, hidden behind innuendo and called a romantic comedy.’
    • ‘His death seemed so gratuitous, so uncalled for, that at first I couldn't figure out why it was in the film.’
    • ‘Graphic, gratuitous sex is as commonplace as graphic, gratuitous violence and no-one bats an eyelid.’
    • ‘Now, the only thing left to talk about is all of the gratuitous violence, which will certainly be a hot topic, no matter how well the film does.’
    • ‘This is gratuitous violence, sick, bone-crunching, vicious and obscene.’
    • ‘And no films with gratuitous violence, nudity or profanity were allowed.’
    • ‘It is extremely painful to watch and yet the violence is never gratuitous.’
    • ‘I was unimpressed by the litany of self - destruction, violence and gratuitous sexism.’
    • ‘Is the film a gratuitous violence fest or maybe just a blatant metaphor for how greed corrupts?’
    • ‘This adaptation will have its critics, and it'll be hard to answer their accusations of gratuitous violence.’
    unjustified, without reason, uncalled for, unwarranted, unprovoked, undue
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  • 2Given or done free of charge.

    ‘solicitors provide a form of gratuitous legal advice’
    • ‘They were gratuitous volunteers, not bona fide purchasers for value without notice.’
    • ‘We are not aware of any cases in which the nonlawyer provider of gratuitous legal advice, such as to a friend or relative, was charged under these laws.’
    • ‘Court employees should cite this Principle when pressed by those seeking gratuitous legal advice.’
    • ‘These licences are essentially gratuitous, since if any charge was made for them, they would be regarded as contractual.’
    • ‘It was a voluntary and gratuitous offer by the chambers to provide education and training.’
    free, gratis, complimentary, voluntary, volunteer, unpaid, unrewarded, unsalaried, free of charge, without charge, for nothing, at no cost, without payment
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Mid 17th century: from Latin gratuitus ‘given freely, spontaneous’ + -ous.