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See also: élective



elect +‎ -ive


  • IPA(key): /ɪˈlɛktɪv/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛktɪv


elective (comparative more elective, superlative most elective)

  1. Of, or pertaining to voting or elections; involving a choice between options.[1]
    Synonym: electoral
    Antonyms: appointive, hereditary
    • 1697, John Dryden, The Works of Virgil [] translated into English Verse, London: Jacob Tonson, dedicatory preface to the Marquess of Normanby,[2]
      For his Conscience could not but whisper to the Arbitrary Monarch, that the Kings of Rome were at first Elective, and Govern’d not without a Senate:
    • 1782, William Cowper, “The Progress of Error” in Poems, London: J. Johnson, p. 43,[3]
      Man thus endued with an elective voice,
      Must be supplied with objects of his choice.
    • 1854, George Bancroft, History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the American Continent, Boston: Little, Brown, Volume 6, Chapter 35, p. 185,[4]
      [] they rested their hopes of redress on the independent use of their elective franchise;
    • 1860, Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, “Proto-Leaf,” p. 21,[5]
      See the populace, millions upon millions, handsome, tall, muscular, both sexes, clothed in easy and dignified clothes―teaching, commanding, marrying, generating, equally electing and elective;
    • 1896, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “The South African Question” in Speeches and Writings of M. K. Gandhi, Madras: G.A. Natesan, 3rd edition, 1922, p. 6,[6]
      [The bill] says that no natives of countries (not of European origin) which have not hitherto possessed elective representative institutions [] shall be placed on the voters roll []
  2. Open to choice; freely chosen.
    Synonyms: discretionary, optional, voluntary
    Antonyms: compulsory, mandatory, obligatory, required, involuntary
    My insurance wouldn't pay for the operation because it was elective surgery.
    • 1654, Thomas Hobbes, Of Libertie and Necessitie, London: F. Eaglesfield, pp. 12-13,[7]
      [] his Lordship is deceived if he think any spontaneous action after once being checked in it, differs from an action voluntary and elective, for even the setting of a mans foot, in the posture for walking, and the action of ordinary eating was once deliberated of how and when it should be done, and though afterward it became easie & habitual so as to be done without fore-thought, yet that does not hinder but that the act is voluntary and proceedeth from election.
    • 1782, Frances Burney, Cecilia, London: T. Payne & Son, and T. Cadell, Volume 5, Book 9, Chapter 8, pp. 160-161,[8]
      “You know not then,” said Cecilia, in a faint voice, “my inability to comply?”
      “Your ability, or inability, I presume are elective?”
      “Oh no!—my power is lost!—my fortune itself is gone!”
    • 2001, Nadine Gordimer, The Pickup, Toronto: Viking, p. 23,[9]
      [Her friends] are, after all, her elective siblings who have distanced themselves from the ways of the past, their families []
    • 2013, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah, New York: Knopf, Chapter 38, p. 346,[10]
      [] That blog is a game that you don’t really take seriously, it’s like choosing an interesting elective evening class to complete your credits.”
    • 2019, Dave Eggers, The Parade, New York: Vintage, p. 130,
      Now some adventuring imbecile had acquired an elective sickness and was paying its price.

Related terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



elective (plural electives)

  1. Something that is an option or may be freely chosen, especially a course of study.
    I still need to decide which electives to take along with my compulsory courses next semester.



  1. ^ Elisha Coles, An English Dictionary, London: Peter Parker, 1677: “Elective, belonging or subject to Election.”[1]