op·​tion·​al ˈäp-sh(ə-)nəl How to pronounce optional (audio)
: involving an option : not compulsory
optionality noun
optionally adverb

Example Sentences

Jackets are required at the restaurant, but ties are optional. Many optional features are available on this car. Registration is optional, not mandatory.
Recent Examples on the Web Side bangs are optional, but Dua Lipa might just encourage you to bring them back. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Jan. 2023 The Civic comes standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display, but a larger 9.0-inch unit is optional, as is a 10.2-inch digital gauge display. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 26 Jan. 2023 The bigger problem is batteries for very large vehicles, like trucks, SUVs and buses where the lightest and smallest batteries may not be optional. Brad Templeton, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 As signed by President Biden, the new federal law requires all states to provide reciprocity in accepting valid occupational licenses from previous jurisdictions (states), which was optional before. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Jan. 2023 The state of California requires drivers to have coverage for collisions and liability; comprehensive, which covers everything else, is optional. Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2023 Clothing is optional, but participation is required at the psychedelic celebration of art, music and sometimes anarchy itself as aging hippies, Silicon Valley executives and other curiosity seekers gather around drum circles and pagan fire rituals. Scott Sonner, ajc, 12 Jan. 2023 Real IDs are optional, but for people that use their driver's license as their primary method of identification, this deadline is important. Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez, The Courier-Journal, 11 Jan. 2023 Seat selection is always optional, whether flying solo or with a family of 10. Nerdwallet, cleveland, 8 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1765, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of optional was in 1765

Dictionary Entries Near optional

Cite this Entry

“Optional.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optional. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


op·​tion·​al ˈäp-shnəl How to pronounce optional (audio)
: left to one's choice : not required
optional equipment on a new car

More from Merriam-Webster on optional

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