Definition of elective in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈlektiv/


1Related to or working by means of election: an elective democracy
More example sentences
  • Good thing, then, that elective democracy has a built-in mechanism for removing him.
  • Instead, we suffer a good deal more from elective dictatorship, with prime ministers and premiers able to shape the political agenda with a freer hand.
  • Looking back on it all many years later in their old age, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his former antagonist John Adams, ‘an elective despotism was not what we fought for’.
1.1(Of a person or office) appointed or filled by election: he had never held elective office the National Assembly, with 125 elective members
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  • Krugman is not a journalist by training, and he's never held appointive or elective office.
  • George Will notes the steadily increasing ranks of African-American Republicans holding significant elective and appointive office.
  • And yet, its new Republican governor is perhaps the freest-thinking holder of high elective office in the entire nation.
1.2(Of a body or position) possessing or giving the power to elect.
Example sentences
  • If we cannot elect men with sufficient education and honor even to try to be wise, we can number in a few score the years in which the elective power will remain ours.
  • They cower down and allow him to dictate the pace rather than being an elective body.
  • In giving the elective power to the states, the framers of the Constitution hoped to protect state independence.
2(Of a course of study) chosen by the student rather than compulsory.
Example sentences
  • The students enrolled in this elective course range from advanced placement to general studies.
  • Pharmacy ranked last in permitting overseas research for its faculty members and allowing degree-candidate students to take elective study abroad courses.
  • A student research program is conducted concurrently with the elective courses - students with something to say are encouraged to say it.
2.1(Of surgical or medical treatment) chosen by the patient rather than urgently necessary.
Example sentences
  • Spontaneous abortion refers to pregnancy loss at less than 20 weeks' gestation in the absence of elective medical or surgical measures to terminate the pregnancy.
  • Music's soothing effects have been demonstrated in patients undergoing chemotherapy or elective surgery under local or regional anesthesia.
  • The reduction in hospital stay was present in all subgroups and most pronounced in the patients undergoing elective surgery for aneurysm who received transfusions.


chiefly North American
An optional course of study: up to half the credits in many public high schools are electives
More example sentences
  • In a trade-off, though, Tech College offers far fewer electives, or curricular freedom of any sort.
  • He chose a philosophy minor, and several courses in classics as electives.
  • As I progressed through school, I chose art classes for electives in junior high and high school because that's what I enjoyed.



Example sentences
  • Adequate preoperative planning, scheduling surgery electively as opposed to emergency and improving nutritional status may be helpful.
  • Surgeons often electively repair abdominal aortic aneurysms that measure 4 to 5.5 cm in diameter even though the long-term survival benefit of early elective surgery is uncertain.
  • The patient was taken electively to the operating room where a 7.5 cm x 5 cm x 4 cm hard, nodular tumor mass was resected from the neck and anterior mediastinum.


Late Middle English: from Old French electif, -ive, from late Latin electivus, from elect- 'picked out', from the verb eligere (see elect).

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Syllabification: e·lec·tive

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