op·​ti·​mi·​za·​tion ˌäp-tə-mə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce optimization (audio)
: an act, process, or methodology of making something (such as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible
specifically : the mathematical procedures (such as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this

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Optimization started its gradual perfection in mid-19th-century English, when it was derived from optimize, a word first used in the early part of that same century with the meaning "to make the best or most of." In basic applications, optimization refers to the act or process of making something as good as it can be. In the 21st century, it has seen much use in technical contexts having to do with attaining the best possible functionality, as in "network optimization" and "search engine optimization" (SEO). Like the words optimum and optimism (which refer, respectively, to the amount or degree of something that is best or most effective, and to a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future), optimize and optimization derive from Latin optimus, meaning "best."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The dual-motor Polestar 4 will also feature the brand’s new driver optimization system. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 18 Apr. 2023 This is more than just optimization but gaining insights to unknown trends that cause inefficiencies. Cyrus Hadavi, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2023 Together, Nathan and Koch are structuring Happy Jack Records to be a mental health optimization platform for the artists signed to it, and via them, to anyone who taps into their music. Katie Bain, Billboard, 4 May 2023 We are involved in some of the largest energy optimization projects on earth, with companies like Enel, Shell, NG, ConEd, Duke. Alan Murray, Fortune, 4 May 2023 Scammers are getting good at search engine optimization, so their malicious search results are at the top of the organic results. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 4 May 2023 The optimization of shooting schedules has similarly led to the addition of more tandem days, which involves running multiple sets instead of just one or two at stages that are close to one another. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Apr. 2023 However, supply chain management and other cost optimization measures are not always about needing fewer workers. Steve Niesman, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2023 Also, optimizations and fine-tunings come quickly when everyone has their hands on the code and the weights—even though LLaMA is still saddled with some fairly restrictive terms of use. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'optimization.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


optimize + -ation

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of optimization was in 1857


Dictionary Entries Near optimization

Cite this Entry

“Optimization.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optimization. Accessed 31 May. 2023.

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