dis·​cre·​tion·​ary | \ di-ˈskre-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce discretionary (audio) \

Definition of discretionary

1 : left to individual choice or judgment : exercised at one's own discretion discretionary powers
2 : available for discretionary use discretionary income

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Examples of discretionary in a Sentence

discretionary spending on luxuries dropped dramatically last year
Recent Examples on the Web That bill also establishes an emergency advisory group and enables the General Assembly to appropriate discretionary federal funds when the body is in session. Kaitlin Lange, The Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Senate OKs bill prohibiting emergency restrictions on religious services," 9 Apr. 2021 Udall called on state Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman to release what Udall estimates is anywhere from $70 million to $85 million in discretionary federal funds to school districts hit hard by the demands of the pandemic. Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, "Lawmaker, schools superintendent clash over COVID-19 relief for schools," 6 Apr. 2021 Lee allocated $10 million of the governor’s discretionary funds for charter schools. Vivian Jones, Washington Examiner, "Tennessee Department of Education grant program aims to expand charter schools with COVID-19 funds," 2 Mar. 2021 Folt said administrators would review planned improvements projects and look for savings in discretionary spending, such as travel and entertainment. Matt Hamilton, Anchorage Daily News, "USC to pay $1.1 billion to settle decades of sex abuse claims against campus gynecologist," 26 Mar. 2021 Folt said administrators would review planned improvements projects and look for savings in discretionary spending, such as travel and entertainment. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, "USC to pay $1.1 billion to settle decades of sex abuse claims against gynecologist," 25 Mar. 2021 Fiscal 2022 will be the first time in a decade without caps on discretionary spending, which went into place with the 2011 Budget Control Act that Biden helped negotiate as vice president for Barack Obama. Josh Boak, ajc, "Biden to outline 2022 budget priorities next week," 23 Mar. 2021 Formal capital controls have not been implemented, nearly a year and a half after banks began to limit cash withdrawals to depositors on a discretionary basis. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Specter of civil conflict in Lebanon looms as economic meltdown gives way to violence," 20 Mar. 2021 Use of taxpayer money by public officials in New Mexico previously came under scrutiny in February, when the Santa Fe New Mexican published details about discretionary spending by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, "Some New Mexico lawmakers pocketing per diem cash despite working from home: report," 19 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discretionary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of discretionary

1698, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for discretionary

discretion + -ary entry 2

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Time Traveler for discretionary

Time Traveler

The first known use of discretionary was in 1698

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Statistics for discretionary

Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discretionary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discretionary. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for discretionary



English Language Learners Definition of discretionary

: available to be used when and how you decide
: done or used when necessary


dis·​cre·​tion·​ary | \ dis-ˈkre-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce discretionary (audio) \

Legal Definition of discretionary

: left to discretion : exercised at one's own discretion specifically : relating to the policy-making function of a public official — see also Federal Tort Claims Act — compare ministerial

Note: A public official generally has qualified immunity from lawsuits that arise from his or her discretionary acts.

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Comments on discretionary

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