From Merriam Webster’s “Word of Day”
1 : done or provided without recompense : free
2 : not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted
Like gratitude, grace, and congratulate, gratuitous is a descendant of the Latin word gratus, which means “pleasing” or “grateful.” When gratuitous was first used in the middle of the 17th century, it meant “free” or “given without return benefit or compensation.” The extended meaning “done without good reason” or “unwarranted” came about just a few decades later, perhaps from the belief held by some people who one should not give something without getting something in return.
What a sad evolution of a good word. Although it is interesting that God’s grace is provided without recompense, freely given – but is totally called for by the circumstances of human life.
p.s. I wanted to add a graphic/picture…. but, let’s just say the second definition is the predominant image…. and most of the picture are indeed unwarranted. Alas…