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

The White House budget document will propose $2.7 trillion in cuts to nondefense discretionary... Kate Davidson, WSJ, "Trump to Request $8.6 Billion for Border Wall in 2020 Budget," 10 Mar. 2019 There are different types, but discretionary forbearance is the one that can creep up on you. Brianna Mcgurran, Fox News, "Skip student loan forbearance - do this instead," 28 Aug. 2018 The Public Record, the Sunday Sun, the Philadelphia Gay News, Scoop USA, Fun Times, and Impacto News are among 20 newspapers and two radio stations that have received such discretionary ad money from the sheriff for years. Jeremy Roebuck, Philly.com, "Sheriff sale ads: A bonanza for the politically connected in Philly," 27 Apr. 2018 The money for Phase 1, about $3.7 million, will come entirely from funds earmarked for Hudson's district -- a combination of discretionary money saved from previous budget cycles and money to be assigned in next year's budget. Lawrence Specker, AL.com, "Once DOA, proposed Mobile soccer complex has new life," 19 Apr. 2018 Under today’s discretionary monetary regime, credit may be cheap, but capital is scarce, especially relative to labor. WSJ, "To Ensure Stable Prices, the Fed Should Do Less," 7 Jan. 2019 Some worry that companies have borrowed to repurchase shares or that consumers have used debt to fund discretionary purchases. Aaron Kuriloff, WSJ, "Taking Stock of the World’s Debt," 27 Dec. 2018 That is partly because there are fewer discretionary commodities funds to make bets based on supply and demand signals. Stephanie Yang, WSJ, "Oil’s Sharp Swings Are a Symptom of a Changing Market," 9 Dec. 2018 That means voice would be better suited to inexpensive goods that people buy often, rather than discretionary purchases like appliances. Rani Molla, Recode, "Amazon wants brands to advertise Alexa voice shopping — essentially for free," 26 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for discretionary

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discretionary

The first known use of discretionary was in 1698

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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

What made you want to look up discretionary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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