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[op-shuh-nl] /ˈɒp ʃə nl/
left to one's choice; not required or mandatory:
Formal dress is optional.
leaving something to choice.
Origin of optional
First recorded in 1755-65; option + -al1
Related forms
optionality, noun
optionally, adverb
nonoptional, adjective
nonoptionally, adverb
unoptional, adjective
unoptionally, adverb
1. discretional, elective, voluntary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for optional
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The use of a Scripture lesson is, of course, optional with the pastor.

  • The manner of fastening the ribs to the frame pieces is optional.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Hence we erase all optional marks in the 1st and 3rd rows, but let them stand in the 2nd.

    A Tangled Tale Lewis Carroll
  • It never occurred to him that that duty was only optional with him now.

    Once to Every Man Larry Evans
  • It is optional with the judges whether the use of a timepiece is to be allowed.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
British Dictionary definitions for optional


possible but not compulsory; left to personal choice
Derived Forms
optionally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for optional

1765, from option + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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