Both "At random" and "Randomly" have the definition: "Without method or conscious decision."

However, can we use them interchangeably?

  • The explosions occurred at random/randomly.
  • The winner was picked at random/randomly.

"randomly" is only an adverb and "at random" is a phrase. Can we place the phrase where the adverb goes and vice versa?

  • I cut the cake randomly/at random.

I would say

The winner was picked at random.

That is, it was an intentionally random choice.


The explosions happened randomly throughout the night.

That is, following no pattern or naturally occurring cycle, showing no signs of an intentional, methodical, or natural frequency.

  • How would you explain your choice? – SovereignSun Sep 11 '17 at 17:18
  • 1
    From my sense of general preference of native speakers. Competent speakers tend to prefer Your name was chosen at random over Your name was chosen randomly. I believe this preference stems from the nuance of the preposition at, a nuance which the adverbial ending ly does not have. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 11 '17 at 17:26

Other than positioning in a sentence, there is no difference between At Random and Randomly and they can be used interchangeably.

i.e. "At random" comes after the verb, while "Randomly" can come either before or after the verb.


The winning numbers are randomly selected by a monkey.

The winning numbers are selected randomly by a monkey.

The winning numbers are selected at random by a monkey.

Here is an Ngram of their usage

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