op·tion·al | \ˈäp-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl\

Definition of optional 

: involving an option : not compulsory

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Other Words from optional

optionality \ˌäp-shə-ˈna-lə-tē \ 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

Inflation guard coverage is sometimes standard and sometimes optional. Ron Hurtibise, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Do you have enough homeowner insurance? Here's how to find out," 13 July 2018 Lederhosen and dirndl optional. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. July 14, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. July 15 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road in Timonium. Chris Kaltenbach, baltimoresun.com, "Spice, sauerkraut and Barenaked Ladies: the best of Baltimore's arts and entertainment scene this week," 8 July 2018 The regular lunch on a recent day consisted of a large serving of rice and beans; carne asada; cooked squash and corn; a salad of lettuce, carrots and jicama; tortillas; and optional flan for dessert. James Wagner, New York Times, "A Nightmare for Mexico’s Soccer Opponents: More Chuckys On the Way," 27 June 2018 The new Blazer will come with a standard 3.6-liter V6 and optional AWD. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Chevy Is Bringing Back the Blazer," 22 June 2018 Beauty practices are indulgent and optional; hygiene practices are necessary and required. Heather Widdows, Time, "Body Hair Is Natural. Society Thinking Otherwise Is Dangerous," 13 June 2018 The jobs in the job guarantee would have to be for work that is either temporary, or optional. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Democrats Are Rushing Into a Job Guarantee. It Could Be a Huge Mistake.," 25 Apr. 2018 More than 80 events are set to unfold, meaning there are plenty of options from which to choose, lab attire optional. Grace Dickinson, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Science Festival: The best events to check out in 2018," 18 Apr. 2018 This is an optional but highly encouraged workout program for the team, and some players will receive bonuses for participation. Josh Katzenstein, NOLA.com, "See the Saints' offseason workout dates," 2 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for optional

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for optional

The first known use of optional was in 1765

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More Definitions for optional



English Language Learners Definition of optional

: available as a choice but not required


op·tion·al | \ˈäp-shə-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of optional

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on optional

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for optional

Spanish Central: Translation of optional

Nglish: Translation of optional for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of optional for Arabic Speakers

Comments on optional

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


to teach someone the beliefs of a group

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