Definition of option in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈɒpʃ(ə)n/


1A thing that is or may be chosen: choose the cheapest options for supplying energy
More example sentences
  • Most of the time will be spent on the chosen option but each participant will get some experience of the other areas.
  • Mr Daley says apart from the high costs involved, the layout of the building meant the work, which would include widening corridors, was not a practical option.
  • A grape vine needs five years to come into commercial production, so leasing is not a practical option.
choice, alternative, recourse, possibility, course of action;
freedom of choice, power to choose, right to choose
informal bet
1.1 [in singular] The freedom or right to choose something: she was given the option of resigning or being dismissed he has no option but to pay up
More example sentences
  • The drivers were given the option of taking a route of their own choice between Grafton and the Gold Coast.
  • When people were given the option of not having their name listed, many demurred, and the list became incomplete and not very useful.
  • I have asked many married couples I know whether they would, if given the option, trade in their marriages for a civil union.
1.2A right to buy or sell a particular thing at a specified price within a set time: Columbia Pictures has an option on the script
More example sentences
  • This relief does not apply if the shareholders in the target company retain an option to sell their shares to another company.
  • In technical terms, the new chief executive is entitled to be granted an option to buy ordinary shares.
  • This involves buying and selling futures or options on shares, bonds or currencies.


[with object]
Buy or sell an option on: his second script will have been optioned by the time you read this
More example sentences
  • Their books are selling overseas, being optioned for movies and TV shows.
  • Wendy Morton may be a poet, but she should considering optioning her life story.
  • Hirsh has optioned William Weintraub's City Unique: Montreal Days and Nights in the 1940s and '50s.



keep (or leave) one's options open

Not commit oneself: he aims to keep his options open by also trying for the export market
More example sentences
  • I think both have left their options open, but neither knows what to do.
  • He was leaving his options open by acting as if he were going to run.
  • Maybe if you were in a different profession you could, so you leave your options open, which is what I do.

not be an option

Not be feasible: travelling by road is not an option here
More example sentences
  • And, for Kilby, coming second wasn't an option.
  • Killing the guy sitting next to him wasn't an option.
  • But when the blizzard hit, that suddenly wasn't an option anymore.


Mid 16th century: from French, or from Latin optio(n-), from the stem of optare 'choose'. The verb dates from the 1930s.

  • This goes back to Latin optare ‘choose’. Keep your options open is only recorded from the 1960s. You choose a specific child to adopt (Late Middle English) and this comes from the related word adopatare ‘choose for yourself’.

Words that rhyme with option


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: op¦tion

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.