Definition of option in US English:



  • 1A thing that is or may be chosen.

    ‘choose the cheapest options for supplying energy’
    • ‘The midfielder had an abundance of options but chose to throw the ball harmlessly into touch.’
    • ‘They will be asked to choose one of four options, none of which proposes the outright closure of both homes.’
    • ‘For those who missed it, on Tuesday night Councillors were asked to choose between two options.’
    • ‘The candidate could use a touch sensitive screen to choose from the following options.’
    • ‘A grape vine needs five years to come into commercial production, so leasing is not a practical option.’
    • ‘A slipcover proved to be a practical option for giving this armchair a role in the new look.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said that as head teacher he could not force youngsters to wear uniforms either but the school hoped parents saw it as a practical option.’
    • ‘Compared to them, today's youngsters have a lot more career options to choose from.’
    • ‘It appears that after months of debate and political posturing, none of the four options was chosen.’
    • ‘A single slab is also a practical option because it's easier to clean than a surface broken up by porous grout lines.’
    • ‘Trying to decide where to give money can also be difficult with so many options to choose from.’
    • ‘Finally, for those comfortable with investing in stocks there are a wealth of options to choose from.’
    • ‘Syvet will also be providing information about green transport options and alternative fuel for cars.’
    • ‘Choose the more likely options rather than the best courses, he advised the students.’
    • ‘Most of the time will be spent on the chosen option but each participant will get some experience of the other areas.’
    • ‘Voters need to be informed about the alternate voting options of advanced polls and special ballots.’
    • ‘The committee will now meet on September 17 to choose between the options.’
    • ‘Those with cars are more likely to choose either of these options.’
    • ‘Patients have now been asked to choose from two options if they wish to remain at the practice.’
    choice, alternative, recourse, possibility, course of action
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1in singular The freedom, power, or right to choose something.
      ‘she was given the option of resigning or being dismissed’
      ‘he has no option but to pay up’
      • ‘They were also given the option of keeping a weblog for their journal assignment, but so far no one has indicated any interest in that either.’
      • ‘Transplant patients are given the option of being put in touch with the the donor's family so Dave sent a thank-you card to his donor's partner Lyn McLean.’
      • ‘I'll always take the car over the bike if given the option.’
      • ‘Under this pioneering project, drug users are given the option of registering to be referred to professional help rather than face the summons.’
      • ‘In any event, I was given the option of staying on until the election but also told that I shouldn't use the column as a platform for the Socialist Alliance.’
      • ‘He particularly liked the line in which we reported how drinkers were given the option of leaving before work began, or staying all-night for a lock-in.’
      • ‘The students were not accommodated in posh hotels, but were given the option of staying with the families of the Indian students.’
      • ‘He was then given the option of undergoing a search of his person to be allowed to board the flight without a photo ID, but he refused.’
      • ‘She was given the option of completing a drink-driver's rehabilitation course which, if completed, will reduce her ban by five months.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Residents would be given the option of either moving out of Gowan Lea temporarily and returning to a bungalow or moving permanently into other accommodation.’
      • ‘Motorists breaking the speed limit but travelling at below 40 mph were given the option of visiting the village hall to watch an educational video.’
      • ‘Environment Minister Elliot Morley told the Commons the public should be given the option of backing moves to have their tap water fluoridated.’
      • ‘People found dumping illegally within the city boundary will go to court and will not be given the option of paying an on-the-spot fine.’
      • ‘The drivers were given the option of taking a route of their own choice between Grafton and the Gold Coast.’
      • ‘We were given the option of canceling and receiving a refund check in the mail, or keeping the reservation in good faith.’
      • ‘We weren't even given the option of buying bottled water.’
      • ‘But Joanne believes everyone should be given the option.’
      • ‘These families will be given the option to take two children to stay in their homes for two weeks or a month.’
    2. 1.2 A right to buy or sell a particular thing at a specified price within a set time.
      ‘Columbia Pictures has an option on the script’
      with infinitive ‘an option to buy the land’
      • ‘This relief does not apply if the shareholders in the target company retain an option to sell their shares to another company.’
      • ‘It exercised its option to sell and tried to persuade Time Warner to pay in cash instead of stock.’
      • ‘This involves buying and selling futures or options on shares, bonds or currencies.’
      • ‘The member only has the option to sell the shares privately if the company decides not to buy them back.’
      • ‘In technical terms, the new chief executive is entitled to be granted an option to buy ordinary shares.’
  • 2American Football
    An offensive play in which the ball carrier has the option to run, pass, hand off, or lateral.


[with object]
  • 1Buy or sell an option on (something)

    ‘his second script will have been optioned by the time you read this’
    • ‘Their books are selling overseas, being optioned for movies and TV shows.’
    • ‘As evidence, however, of the wide range of tastes this book will probably appeal to, it's been optioned for film as a joint project by the producers of the Harry Potter franchise and Brad Grey, executive producer of The Sopranos.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Inevitably it is fêted by the critics as ‘raw and authentic’, optioned by Hollywood and nominated for a major literary prize.’
    1. 1.1US Transfer a player (to a minor league team) with an option to recall him.
      • ‘San Diego acquired third baseman Joe Randa from Cincinnati for two minor league pitchers and optioned struggling third baseman Sean Burroughs to Triple-A Portland.’
      • ‘There is no record of a Maynard Felix ever playing in the majors, so perhaps the contract he signed was for a minor league team to which he was optioned by the Reds.’
      • ‘Because he can't be optioned, the team might be forced to do just that.’
      • ‘If he fails to show any progress, he'll be optioned to Class AAA.’
      • ‘When the coach of the Admirals tried to persuade him to come to Europe, Warner hesitated, saying he would do so only if an NFL team signed him and optioned him to Europe.’


  • keep (or leave) one's options open

    • Not commit oneself.

      • ‘They were keeping their options open and the long term plan would be to provide a library adjoining the College House property.’
      • ‘Maybe if you were in a different profession you could, so you leave your options open, which is what I do.’
      • ‘Already, both old and new towns are part of their way of thinking, and by keeping their options open, they can have the best of both worlds, enjoying the convenience of the modern world, while keeping one foot firmly in their glorious past.’
      • ‘He was leaving his options open by acting as if he were going to run.’
      • ‘I think both have left their options open, but neither knows what to do.’
      • ‘That being said, we're keeping our options open.’
      • ‘I've said my future might lie elsewhere but I'm keeping my options open.’
      • ‘If, like me, you're looking for that special someone, it's always good to keep your options open.’
      • ‘Nothing's cast in stone and we're keeping our options open.’
      • ‘In terms of future projects, both are keeping their options open.’
  • not be an option

    • Not be feasible.

      ‘traveling by road is not an option here’
      • ‘Sharon wants to adopt a Filipino brother or sister for Rica, but until today it wasn't an option.’
      • ‘They may agree that failure isn't an option, but this does not mean that they will avoid it.’
      • ‘Backing down simply wasn't an option, however strong the consensus or the evidence.’
      • ‘Ignoring him wasn't an option, because we had to be sure that we didn't miss any actual information of significance.’
      • ‘This wasn't an option for my brother and me since my father would supervise.’
      • ‘But when the blizzard hit, that suddenly wasn't an option anymore.’
      • ‘School wasn't an option for most youngsters when Jack was growing up.’
      • ‘Killing the guy sitting next to him wasn't an option.’
      • ‘And, for Kilby, coming second wasn't an option.’
      • ‘They're working-class people who need to bring carloads of food to their families, to their restaurants or to their homes in parts of town where rents are lower and living car-free isn't an option.’


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