Definition of elective in US English:



  • 1Related to or working by means of election.

    ‘an elective democracy’
    • ‘The Hopi elective government have fought for defense of their original reservation, while traditionalists support the Navajo families' efforts to remain on the disputed lands.’
    • ‘It may have a constitutional role, as a check (however fragile) against the elective dictatorship of a temporary majority of MPs in the Commons.’
    • ‘I have never been in local government in an elective sense, but I have always had a great regard for it, for the authenticity that comes from proximity to the people and their very real problems.’
    • ‘But I say to them that elective dictatorship only occurs when we disregard moral and political imperatives.’
    • ‘It deals with, among many other things, the conflict between hereditary and elective principles and the constitutional problems of a second chamber.’
    • ‘In the 1990s, Lesotho began a new period of elective government.’
    • ‘Poland was Europe's most important elective monarchy.’
    • ‘Other elective procedures are run as they should be.’
    • ‘This trend towards party government has been referred to as elective dictatorship.’
    • ‘The elective principle itself, Tocqueville notes, forces an ambitious man to appeal beyond the confines of his family and friends for votes.’
    • ‘Good thing, then, that elective democracy has a built-in mechanism for removing him.’
    • ‘Jumping into elective politics, Hilleary made an unsuccessful run for the state senate in 1992.’
    • ‘However, as the new elective rules bed in this issue will be kept under review.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Buchanan, however, reworked the entire argument in a classical idiom to define an elective form of monarchy and make it axiomatic that kings were accountable to those who elected them.’
    • ‘They also believed that the democratic element of an elective National Assembly should be balanced by a second chamber or senate whose members sat for life.’
    • ‘In this sense, the Scottish system has turned Westminster's elective dictatorship upside down.’
    • ‘I regard the Senate, along with the High Court, as the two principal features of Australia's governmental structure preventing us from degenerating into an elective dictatorship.’
    • ‘Perceptive though he was, he never envisaged or understood the prospect of this strange international bureaucracy that is incorrectable by elective mechanism and barely subject to laws.’
    1. 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’
      • ‘George Will notes the steadily increasing ranks of African-American Republicans holding significant elective and appointive office.’
      • ‘When the government introduced an elective element into the Legislative Council in 1842, no bar was placed on the participation of ex-convicts.’
      • ‘Swett battled for the full reform program: to make everything, even the mayoralty, an appointive rather than an elective office.’
      • ‘Due to this, we don't have an elective member to represent us.’
      • ‘After Michael's death in a ski accident at year's end, Joe decided to exit elective office altogether.’
      • ‘And so, for the first time in 12 years, he found himself out of elective office without a certain next step.’
      • ‘A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective.’
      • ‘Sinclair had never held elective office, though he had previously run for governor on the Socialist Party ticket.’
      • ‘And yet, its new Republican governor is perhaps the freest-thinking holder of high elective office in the entire nation.’
      • ‘Krugman is not a journalist by training, and he's never held appointive or elective office.’
      • ‘And that's the decision whether to stand for the nation's highest elective office or not.’
      • ‘Republican women hold forty-one state elective offices, and Democrats, forty-three.’
      • ‘Under state statute, Daschle would no longer be eligible to hold elective office in South Dakota or represent it in Washington.’
      • ‘Further, through its political arm, the ATLU began successfully contesting the small number of seats in the legislature that were elective.’
      • ‘At the same time, both men said they were the person to represent the majority-minority district and that ethnicity is not the only prerequisite for elective office.’
      • ‘However Charles saw Exclusion of the rightful heir as changing the monarchy from a hereditary, divinely appointed institution into an elective, limited office that could soon give way to a new commonwealth.’
      • ‘Congress is Thune's first elective office, but he arrived on Capitol Hill in 1997 with experience in several jobs that gave him a solid grounding in federal, state and local government.’
      • ‘The sort of people who run for elective office just don't do that sort of thing.’
      • ‘Collins, who had never held elective office, proved to be a better campaigner in 1996 than she had been in 1994.’
      • ‘In addition, while Dole faced criticism that she had no prior elective experience, there was scant attention paid to the dearth of women in executive positions of power in the United States.’
      elected, chosen, democratic, popular, nominated, appointed, commissioned
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a body or position) possessing or giving the power to elect.
      • ‘For it is an elementary proposition that if a vote is not cast for one of the two highest candidates it is completely shorn of its elective power.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In giving the elective power to the states, the framers of the Constitution hoped to protect state independence.’
      • ‘They cower down and allow him to dictate the pace rather than being an elective body.’
  • 2(of surgical or medical treatment) chosen by the patient rather than urgently necessary.

    • ‘This is a serious look at America's extreme body modifiers - think tongue splitting, elective amputation and the like.’
    • ‘This was why the decision had been made to centralise elective orthopaedics at Waterford Regional Hospital.’
    • ‘They probably have fewer high-tech machines than we do, and the comparative cost figures may be skewed by the American love of elective procedures.’
    • ‘Dr Ryan also made it clear that it was not intended that elective surgery would be carried out in Castlebar but that a new specialist unit would be established to cater for elective work for the region at Merlin Park hospital.’
    • ‘The reduction in hospital stay was present in all subgroups and most pronounced in the patients undergoing elective surgery for aneurysm who received transfusions.’
    • ‘Music's soothing effects have been demonstrated in patients undergoing chemotherapy or elective surgery under local or regional anesthesia.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Nutritional deprivation in patients who have elective gastrointestinal surgical procedures is a normal practice.’
    • ‘About 3,500 elective procedures take place in hospitals every week and many cannot proceed without the availability of a blood transfusion.’
    • ‘Could a randomised trial answer the controversy relating to elective caesarean section?’
    voluntary, non-compulsory, at one's discretion, discretionary, not required, up to the individual, non-mandatory, free, open, unforced
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a course of study) chosen by the student rather than compulsory.
      • ‘All classes used for recruitment were general elective courses that attracted a diverse cross-section of male and female college students.’
      • ‘And if psychology is taught in high school, it is offered typically as an elective course.’
      • ‘Temple currently offers a variety of elective classes, focusing on everything from commercial real estate and residential property management to real estate law.’
      • ‘About 65 percent of schools integrate communication skill development into several required and elective courses throughout the curriculum.’
      • ‘Various chapters may also be interesting to Master's degree students taking specialized elective courses in strategy.’
      • ‘The students enrolled in this elective course range from advanced placement to general studies.’
      • ‘Now in college, he is taking a very good course - elective, not required - focused on the roots of Western culture.’
      • ‘She expressed disappointment when told that with advance notice our nursing program could have designed learning activities to provide her with an elective course credit for her summer work.’
      • ‘On the other hand, students taking the elective course do so by virtue of a preference, and generally ability, for the subject matter.’
      • ‘What if each school and college offered an elective course in pedagogy to prepare students for this education-based practice experience?’
      • ‘All the subjects were recruited by instructors who taught elective courses at each campus.’
      • ‘Pharmacy ranked last in permitting overseas research for its faculty members and allowing degree-candidate students to take elective study abroad courses.’
      • ‘Well, I'm lazy and my memories of elective university classes are a bit hazy so I had hoped not to, but here we go.’
      • ‘The survey was pre-tested by students enrolled in an elective course.’
      • ‘A six week elective course on smoking cessation, which aimed to encourage cessation and provide how-to-quit strategies, was also constructed.’
      • ‘Students may be able to earn an elective credit course within their nursing program for their independent study experience at camp.’
      • ‘In terms of an agreement with the Ministry of Education, it is recognised as an elective course.’
      • ‘A student research program is conducted concurrently with the elective courses - students with something to say are encouraged to say it.’
      • ‘The subject group was comprised of 20 sixth-year medical students who joined the four-week elective course in Oriental psychosomatic medicine.’
      • ‘One physics department in Kenya allows its students to take an elective course in entrepreneurship offered by the university's business division.’


North American
  • An optional course of study.

    ‘up to half the credits in many public high schools are electives’
    • ‘The curriculum includes five courses and five electives.’
    • ‘And while there are three automotive mechanics facilities in the district, none are used heavily and power mechanics, as an elective, has disappeared entirely in Richmond.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'm taking a reading elective this month, interspersed with some Oncology cross-cover.’
    • ‘The research course, as well as the guided electives, are taught outside the department with collaborating faculty in teacher education, educational leadership, and social work.’
    • ‘We had one elective every day, and had four electives in all, one of them repeating.’
    • ‘In a trade-off, though, Tech College offers far fewer electives, or curricular freedom of any sort.’
    • ‘For year-round students, the academy offers a full curriculum of requirements and electives, including French.’


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