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

The dirty work of democracy is often compared to the making of sausages, but Australians almost take that maxim literally — turning Election Day into a countrywide barbecue, in which the grilling of hot dogs is optional but voting is compulsory. Tacey Rychter, The Seattle Times, "Australia tells America: Here’s how to fix your voting system," 22 Oct. 2018 This will add extra shine, but is completely optional if sparkle isn't your thing. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "We Can't Get Enough of This Easy Vampire Makeup Tutorial for Halloween," 6 Sep. 2018 All of Michigan football's overseas trips have been optional and players and not all players have attended both spots. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh: Team going to South Africa next year," 21 May 2018 However, that gear is mostly optional, and the Escape earned mid-level scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Car and Driver, "2018 Ford Escape," 23 Mar. 2018 The days of peeling, boiling and mashing were now optional, and for millions of cooks, Thanksgiving became a little easier. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "How Potatoes Conquered the World," 15 Nov. 2018 Biometric face scanning will be optional, meant as an option to save travelers time from checking in, as spotted by TechCrunch. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Facial recognition scans are expanding to Delta flights in Atlanta International Airport," 20 Sep. 2018 This step is totally optional, but so much more fun. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "How to Fix a Broken Nail — and Grow 'Em Back Stronger," 20 Sep. 2018 Sleep off any late nights with a siesta on one of the town’s gay-friendly beaches, like Playa Bassa Rodona or Playa del Muerto, a clothing-optional alternative that’s reachable by clambering carefully over the rocky cliffs. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Places to Travel in June," 9 May 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

8 Dec 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

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