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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.
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for optional
  • When nominations are made it is optional whether they are seconded or not.
  • We may give others a preference over him in optional good offices, except those which tend to his improvement.
  • Shellfish are optional, but always add glamour and color if you wish to include them.
  • Frying the crab first is optional, but it adds superb flavor and makes the crabmeat more tender.
  • Under the first version of the new plan, the département number was to have been an optional add-on.
  • And, by the way, an optional alternative tax system is not simple.
  • For insurers: an optional system of federal chartering and regulation, aimed primarily at protecting their safety and soundness.
  • Students then follow optional concentrations in the second year.
  • The programme begins with optional pre-programme courses in statistics and mathematics.
  • optional information such as your age or gender may also be requested.
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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