Something that's open-ended doesn't have a specific end date or time. You might buy an open-ended plane ticket to Rome if you're not sure when — or if — you'll want to come home.

Things that are limitless, or that have no restrictions or restraints, can be called open-ended. An open-ended lease on a apartment doesn't end on a specific day, and an open-ended babysitting job would be somewhat casual, rather than a regular, reliable job. Open-ended questions are complicated ones — they can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." The adjective open-ended has been in use since the mid-1800s.

Definitions of open-ended

adj without fixed limits or restrictions

“an open-ended discussion”
not subject to or subjected to restriction

adj allowing for future changes or revisions

open-ended agreements”
changeable, changeful
such that alteration is possible; having a marked tendency to change

adj allowing for a spontaneous response

“an open-ended question”
indeterminate, undetermined
not precisely determined or established; not fixed or known in advance

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.