Unselect or Deselect – Which Is Correct? (Helpful Examples)

Sometimes, when going online you select items. You can select them to buy, adding them to the cart. Or you can select from a menu. But what is the opposite of “select”?

When you want to remove your selection, do you say “Unselect” or “Deselect”? Let’s find out.

Unselect or Deselect – Which Is Correct?

This is a tricky choice, because right now, those words don’t even really show in the dictionary. To “Deselect” is known as removing a selection that had been given to an item on a software. “Unselect” is considered an incorrect form that shouldn’t be used.

Unselect or Deselect

New words begin to exist all the time (a few years ago, for example, as a society we created the word “selfie”). Considering that IT people all over the world are always creating new things, it’s only natural that new words follow.

Let’s look at some tentative examples of “Unselect” and “Deselect”.

  • Ray deselected the option in the menu.
  • There were many unselected options available online.

“Deselect” seems to be more connected with the idea of removing a selection made before. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Deselect” as “cause something previously selected to no longer be selected in a software interface”.

“Unselect” on the other hand, doesn’t seem to appear in any dictionary. Still, it’s considered to be more connected to the idea of never having been selected at all.


“Unselect” might be a word in formation, but no clear definition of it can be found at this time. Some say it refers to something that hasn’t been selected at all (and not selected and “Deselected”). Others say “Unselect” and “Deselect” can be used interchangeably.

Looking at The Cambridge Dictionary we can find a list of suggestions for words we might want to look at. But “Unselect” itself cannot be found as a real word yet.

That’s not to say “Unselect” doesn’t exist – at this point, we can likely agree a new word is coming about, and will have a clear definition at some point in the future. Maybe we just have to wait and see.

Here are some examples of what we believe are the correct use for “Unselect”:

  1. Thierry unselected the option to share information in the document.
  2. Darren had left many features unselected from the software’s menu.
  3. I think we should unselect the sharing option, until the report is ready for all to see.
  4. Have you looked into the unselected options? There might be something useful that we’re missing.
  5. I’ll just unselect everything and start again.

Notice that the word “Unselect” is connected with the tech world. Just like “Deselect”, it’s likely verbatim created by IT people, to make software lingo easier to understand by all people.


To “Deselect” refers to removing a selection initially given to an item on a software. It indicates that a selection was initially made, but the selected item was then, “Deselected” for some reason.

In The Cambridge Dictionary, “Deselect” has an electoral connotation and refers to the opposite of electing. Their definition isn’t at all connected to the IT world, like we assumed.

Let’s take a look at some examples of what we believe is the correct way yo use “Deselect”, with the IT world in mind:

  1. In order to stop the program from automatically capitalizing words, you need to deselect that option in the menu.
  2. Harry deselected the auto-corrector.
  3. Marissa deselected the bold option, and the text looked better.
  4. I had forgotten to deselect the highlighter option in the menu.
  5. Chris deselected the aim assist in the in-game menu.

Which Is Used the Most?

“Deselect” and “Unselect” are relatively new words. Still, can we find out which is used more frequently?

Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below, and what it shows us.

Unselect or Deselect usage

First, we want to call you attention to the fact that both words came about after 1985. They’re indeed very new. “Deselect” appears with much more frequency than “Unselect”, and that’s been a trend since those words’ inception.

Final Thoughts

“Deselect” and “Unselect” are new words from the tech world. “Deselect” refers to things you had previously selected on a software, but changed your mind and removed the selection. “Unselect” is for what was never selected at all, it refers to things which weren’t even selected in the first place.

You may also like: Choose vs. Select – What’s the Difference? (UK vs. US)