dis·cre·tion·ary | \-ˈkre-shə-ˌner-ē \

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

In May, Tanzanian bloggers lost an appeal that had temporarily suspended a new set of regulations granting the country’s Communication Regulatory Authority discretionary powers to censor online content. Shayera Dark, The Verge, "Strict new internet laws in Tanzania are driving bloggers and content creators offline," 6 July 2018 Responsibilities and penalties would have been made clearer and regulators’ discretionary powers would have been reined in. The Economist, "A rare bipartisan moment allows a timid rollback of banking regulation," 24 May 2018 The proposal would provide the state's public district and charter schools with $880 million a year more in discretionary funding, and require the state to fully fund Arizona's kindergarten students. Alexis Egeland, azcentral, "These are the three proposals for funding teacher salaries, education," 25 Apr. 2018 The clinician will be funded through discretionary funds from County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy. Hannah Holzer, sacbee, "STD rates rise in Sacramento County, following statewide, nationwide trends," 2 July 2018 Congress funds the Pentagon, the State Department and most domestic programs out of annual discretionary funds. Jonathan Allen, NBC News, "The era of Trump deficits has begun," 12 Feb. 2018 The money available for your annual discretionary spending would climb by $23,000, to $87,000, according to MaxiFi Planner. Peter Finch, New York Times, "Countdown to Retirement: A Five-Year Plan," 6 July 2018 The drawback is that your monthly mortgage payment will be higher, which means less money for discretionary spending as well as for saving. Sunset, "How to Make Sense of 3 Common Types of Home Loans," 22 Jan. 2018 Corporate news drove swings in individual stocks throughout the week, propelling shares of industrial, technology and consumer discretionary firms up more than 2% apiece in the S&P 500. Akane Otani, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Rise, Post Weekly Gains," 13 July 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

see discreet

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Phrases Related to discretionary

discretionary income

Statistics for discretionary

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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 \

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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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