The Meaning of Opt Out: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will show you all of the information you need on how to use the phrase opt out, including its definition, origin, example sentences, and more!

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What is the definition of opt out?

According to Merriam-Webster English Dictionary, opt out is an intransitive verb meaning to choose not to participate in something. This is often seen in marketing emails, mail, or telephone calls, where people who receive said emails, calls, or pieces of mail can choose to no longer receive them. However, the phrase can be used in any circumstance where one chooses not to participate in something. Whether that is a marketing email or an activity, opt out can be used in a variety of ways.

Where is opt out commonly seen?

The phrase opt out is commonly seen in marketing situations, whether via email, by phone, or via mail. Many times, when someone makes a purchase online and gives their email address or phone number for shipping or order notifications, their email or phone number is automatically added to a database of other emails and phone numbers that are set to receive marketing subscription emails or texts.

Usually, at the bottom of email marketing or text marketing, there are instructions on how subscribers can opt out of the emails to stop receiving them. If there is an opt-out button, this would be a case in which opt-out is being used as an adverb. Many choose to opt out of frequent marketing emails or texts as they can clutter up one’s inbox if the company emails too frequently, as this can inhibit the functionality of the mail client.

For example, if one was receiving email blasts from a publisher like HarperCollins Publishers or Random House and no longer wished to receive them, they could opt out of said emails.

Usually, customers would choose not to opt out of mailing lists that are important to them, such as a store they shop at frequently where they want to know about sales, or from a health care provider about appointment reminders.

This is also a problem with telemarketers and physical mail. Many find their mailboxes filled to the brim with only junk mail, and little to no letters that are actually meant for them. This creates an enormous waste problem.

The Federal Trade Commission acknowledges this as a problem to much so that it offers citizens options for opting out of unsolicited mail, telemarketing calls, and unsolicited emails. Their website details an entire opt-out system. People can either call a phone number or visit a website to begin opting out for five years, or permanently. People can also send a written request to opt out of the major consumer reporting companies if they do not have access to the internet.

What are some synonyms and antonyms of opt out?

There are many words and phrases that can be used in place of the phrase opt out. According to Collins Dictionary, all of the below words are synonyms for the phrase opt out.

–   Unsubscribe – A verb meaning to cancel a subscription to something, whether a physical mailer on an online service.

–   Reject – A verb meaning to dismiss.

–   Quit – A verb meaning to stop or discontinue something, usually permanently.

–   Leave – A verb meaning to depart from.

–   Depart – A verb meaning to leave or deviate from.

–   Withdraw – A verb meaning to take out or to remove.

–   Cop out – A slang verbal phrase meaning to avoid.

–   Drop out – A verbal phrase meaning to abandon or withdraw from something.

–   Pull out – A verbal phrase meaning to remove oneself from something.

–   Secede – A verb meaning to withdraw from something, usually formally.

–   Absent oneself – A verbal phrase meaning to go away or remain away.

–   Back out – A verbal phrase meaning to withdraw from something.

While the most direct antonym of opt out is the phrase opt in, which means to sign up for something voluntarily, there are other words and phrases that also have an opposite meaning to opt out. Below are a list of antonyms from, alongside their definitions.

–   Continue – A verb meaning to persist with a process or activity.

–   Persevere – A verb meaning to continue to take part in somethingeven in the face of difficulty.

–   Remain – A verb meaning to stay or continue to exist.

–   Stay – A verb meaning to remain in the same state or place.

What is the origin of the phrase opt out?

According to Etymonline, the word opt stems from the French verb opter, meaning “to choose” which originated in the 16th century. Opt itseld means to wish for, choose, or desire. This could have also originated from the Latin optare meaning choose or desire. The archaic word optate from the early 1600s has a similar meaning, stemming from the Latin optatus. The word out stems from the Old English word utian, meaning to expel, and its currently meaning was popular by the mid 14th century. The first known use of the phrase opt out was in 1951, according to Merriam-Webster. This phrase has made its way into common usage throughout the years, and is now frequently used in everyday speech.

How could one use opt out in a sentence?

The phrase opt out can be used in a variety of circumstances and sentences. Below are some different sentences and conversations in which the phrase opt out would be appropriate.

If a husband was complaining to his wife about the amount of junk mail they get, he might say, “The mailbox is always full of nothing but coupons for stores we don’t shop at. It’s frustrating.” She could reply, “We should look into opting out.”

If someone was setting up their new iOS or Android and an application or widget asked for permission to report their data to the developer, the owner could say, “I’m choosing to opt out of sending my data – I’m not sure what they do with it, and I’m not comfortable revealing it.”

The phrase can also be used in more casual vernacular. If a couple chooses not to own pets, they might tell their friends, “We opted out of the whole pets thing. I love cats and dogs, but we travel too much and we don’t have a yard. It wouldn’t be fair to get a pet we never see.”

Overall, the phrase opt out means to choose not to participate in something. This is commonly used when referring to marketing mail, phone calls, texts, or emails, as many would like to unsubscribe or opt out to keep from cluttering their inboxes or mailboxes.