"random" ("not known or not identified") often refers to a person

Some random guy gave me a hundred bucks.

You don’t want some random dude telling you how to live your life.

Can "random" refer to a thing?

For example, "don't have random food and drink sold in the street" when we talk about "food" or "drink" that we don't know much its origin and whether it's safe or not.

Note: Food and drink sold in streets in some developing countries may not be safe and hygienic.

  • 2
    The real meaning of 'random' is 'happening without a conscious decision', as in 'choosing something at random'. The sense of 'unknown or unspecified', as in 'random guy', is informal. To me, random street food would imply that you went to the nearest stall without waiting to check what else was available! Jan 7, 2022 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


Using random like this is informal and slangy, but it can be used to mean "arbitrary", "undistinguished", or "unspecified" in some contexts.

These meanings may come from American hacker culture; the placeholder name J. Random Hacker was in use at MIT as far back as the 1960s, and the "Jargon File" dictionary of slang lists a number of definitions for random like

  1. Assorted; undistinguished. “Who was at the conference?” “Just a bunch of random business types.”
  1. Arbitrary. “It generates a random name for the scratch file.”

So yes, you can use random in the sense you mean, but be aware that it's very informal and slangy, and may not be understood by everyone.

  • What you say is true, however, random food and drink does not work for me at all. random numbers, random names, sure.
    – Lambie
    Jan 7, 2022 at 14:33

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