1. The act of choosing; selection: It is time to make a choice between the candidates.
a. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option: The teacher gave me the choice between taking an exam and writing a paper.
b. An alternative: With no money, he had no choice but to walk home.
3. One that is chosen: That vase on sale looks like an excellent choice.
4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
5. The right to terminate a pregnancy by induced abortion.
adj. choic·er, choic·estIdiom:
1. Of very fine quality: choice peaches.
2. Selected with care; well-chosen: choice phrases.
3. Expressive of intense disapproval: had some choice words for the movers who dropped her antique spinet.
4. Of or relating to the USDA grade of beef with more marbling than select cuts and less marbling than prime cuts.
Preferred above others of the same kind or set: "the much used leveraged buyout as the weapon of choice" (Alison Leigh Cowan).
[Middle English chois, from Old French, from choisir, to choose, from Vulgar Latin *causīre, of Germanic origin; see geus- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: choice, selection, alternative, option, preference
These nouns denote something chosen or available for choosing: Choice and selection are the most general: My first choice was too costly. My selection from the menu turned out to be delicious. Both words can refer to a range of things available for choosing: You have a wide choice of colors. The store had a good selection of wines. Alternative emphasizes choice between two possibilities or courses of action: "Since the days of Thomas A. Edison, the auto industry has been trying to make a credible alternative to the internal combustion engine" (Danny Hakim).
Option is often used of a choice that requires careful consideration: The legislature outlined many tax options. Preference indicates a choice based on one's values, bias, or predilections: We were offered our preference of appetizers.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.