op·​tion·​al | \ ˈäp-shnəl How to pronounce optional (audio) , -shə-nᵊl \

Definition of optional

: involving an option : not compulsory

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Other Words from optional

optionality \ ˌäp-​shə-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce optionality (audio) \ noun
optionally adverb

Examples of optional in a Sentence

Jackets are required at the restaurant, but ties are optional. Many optional features are available on this car. Registration is optional, not mandatory.
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Recent Examples on the Web Teaching about birth control measures beyond abstinence in Texas is required only in high school, where health education courses are optional. Alex Briseno, Dallas News, "SBOE gives preliminary approval to teaching middle schoolers about birth control beyond abstinence," 12 Sep. 2020 The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that deferring the employee portion of Social Security taxes is optional. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Most won't face Trump's payroll tax break but federal workers will," 11 Sep. 2020 Carbon-ceramic brakes and 20-inch wheels are optional. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "2020 Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD Trades Traction for Entertainment," 10 Sep. 2020 Flood insurance is optional, and only 15% of American households buy it, says Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "Avoid these 4 home insurance pitfalls during hurricane season," 9 Sep. 2020 But politics isn’t magic, and reality is not optional. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Reality Bites," 6 Sep. 2020 Instead, the city could have a community safety department in which police would be optional. Liz Navratil, Star Tribune, "Momentum slows in Minneapolis City Council's plan to remake police," 5 Sep. 2020 However, under Senate Bill 5035, the establishment of such a board would be optional. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "Bill to mandate civilian review boards of police departments passes Virginia House," 4 Sep. 2020 Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman at the Office of Management and Budget, did not respond to questions Monday as to whether the deferral would be optional. Author: Tony Romm, Eric Yoder, Anchorage Daily News, "Federal workers will have taxes deferred under Trump order, sparking outcry they’re being treated as a ‘guinea pig’," 1 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'optional.' 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 optional

1765, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for optional

Time Traveler

The first known use of optional was in 1765

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Statistics for optional

Last Updated

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Optional.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optional. Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for optional


How to pronounce optional (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of optional

: available as a choice but not required


op·​tion·​al | \ ˈäp-shə-nᵊl How to pronounce optional (audio) \

Kids Definition of optional

: left to choice : not required Costumes are optional at the party.

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