Definition of elective in English:



  • 1Related to or working by means of election.

    ‘an elective democracy’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other elective procedures are run as they should be.’
    • ‘Jumping into elective politics, Hilleary made an unsuccessful run for the state senate in 1992.’
    • ‘The elective principle itself, Tocqueville notes, forces an ambitious man to appeal beyond the confines of his family and friends for votes.’
    • ‘However, as the new elective rules bed in this issue will be kept under review.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This trend towards party government has been referred to as elective dictatorship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the 1990s, Lesotho began a new period of elective government.’
    • ‘Poland was Europe's most important elective monarchy.’
    • ‘But I say to them that elective dictatorship only occurs when we disregard moral and political imperatives.’
    • ‘In this sense, the Scottish system has turned Westminster's elective dictatorship upside down.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It deals with, among many other things, the conflict between hereditary and elective principles and the constitutional problems of a second chamber.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its new governor is perhaps the freest-thinking holder of high elective office in the entire nation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Due to this, we don't have an elective member to represent us.’
      • ‘Sinclair had never held elective office, though he had previously run for governor on the Socialist Party ticket.’
      • ‘And so, for the first time in 12 years, he found himself out of elective office without a certain next step.’
      • ‘Collins, who had never held elective office, proved to be a better campaigner in 1996 than she had been in 1994.’
      • ‘Republican women hold forty-one state elective offices, and Democrats, forty-three.’
      • ‘Swett battled for the full reform program: to make everything, even the mayoralty, an appointive rather than an elective office.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The sort of people who run for elective office just don't do that sort of thing.’
      • ‘Under state statute, Daschle would no longer be eligible to hold elective office in South Dakota or represent it in Washington.’
      • ‘After Michael's death in a ski accident at year's end, Joe decided to exit elective office altogether.’
      • ‘And that's the decision whether to stand for the nation's highest elective office or not.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Further, through its political arm, the ATLU began successfully contesting the small number of seats in the legislature that were elective.’
      • ‘When the government introduced an elective element into the Legislative Council in 1842, no bar was placed on the participation of ex-convicts.’
      • ‘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.’
      elected, elective, chosen, democratic, popular, nominated, appointed, commissioned
    2. 1.2(of a body or position) possessing or giving the power to elect.
      ‘powerful Emperors manipulated the elective body’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2(of surgical or medical treatment) chosen by the patient rather than urgently necessary.

    ‘elective surgery’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Nutritional deprivation in patients who have elective gastrointestinal surgical procedures is a normal practice.’
    • ‘Could a randomised trial answer the controversy relating to elective caesarean section?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘About 3,500 elective procedures take place in hospitals every week and many cannot proceed without the availability of a blood transfusion.’
    voluntary, non-compulsory, at one's discretion, discretionary, not required, up to the individual, elective, non-mandatory, free, open, unforced
    1. 2.1(of a course of study) chosen by the student rather than compulsory.
      ‘elective courses on this subject have always been oversubscribed’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Various chapters may also be interesting to Master's degree students taking specialized elective courses in strategy.’
      • ‘One physics department in Kenya allows its students to take an elective course in entrepreneurship offered by the university's business division.’
      • ‘What if each school and college offered an elective course in pedagogy to prepare students for this education-based practice experience?’
      • ‘On the other hand, students taking the elective course do so by virtue of a preference, and generally ability, for the subject matter.’
      • ‘The survey was pre-tested by students enrolled in an elective course.’
      • ‘Students may be able to earn an elective credit course within their nursing program for their independent study experience at camp.’
      • ‘About 65 percent of schools integrate communication skill development into several required and elective courses throughout the curriculum.’
      • ‘And if psychology is taught in high school, it is offered typically as an elective course.’
      • ‘All the subjects were recruited by instructors who taught elective courses at each campus.’
      • ‘The subject group was comprised of 20 sixth-year medical students who joined the four-week elective course in Oriental psychosomatic medicine.’
      • ‘In terms of an agreement with the Ministry of Education, it is recognised as an elective course.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A six week elective course on smoking cessation, which aimed to encourage cessation and provide how-to-quit strategies, was also constructed.’
      • ‘All classes used for recruitment were general elective courses that attracted a diverse cross-section of male and female college students.’
      • ‘Temple currently offers a variety of elective classes, focusing on everything from commercial real estate and residential property management to real estate law.’
      • ‘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.’


North American
  • An optional course of study.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The curriculum includes five courses and five electives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For year-round students, the academy offers a full curriculum of requirements and electives, including French.’
    • ‘We had one elective every day, and had four electives in all, one of them repeating.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'm taking a reading elective this month, interspersed with some Oncology cross-cover.’


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