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I recently encountered the phrase "for choice" to mean "by preference". At first it didn't look like idiomatic English to me, but a web search turned it up in a few other places. Is this common in some dialect other than mine (in British English, perhaps)? And is it native to that dialect or borrowed from some other language?

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Could you please give the context in which you encountered "for choice?" – Thursagen Aug 9 '11 at 7:07
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As in "For choice, I'll eat coxes, but other kinds of apple will do", yes?

It is an odd phrase, but it's not unfamiliar to me (in the UK). It seems much less formal to me than "by choice", but synonymous with it.

I can't think of any particular origin for it, or reason for "for" rather than "by". But idioms often have idiosyncratic prepositions: consider another phrase which means much the same "to my mind". Why "to"?

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I'm not quite sure what you are encountering. I can think up of two usages for "for choice".

"Canadians for choice", or "Republicans for choice", or "Feminists for choice."

In this case, "choice" is the noun, and its meaning is "the right, power, or opportunity to choose", and such "Canadians for choice" are slogans that emphasize their goal to promote the right for "Canadians"(in this case) to choose as they like.

Another instance of usage of "for choice" is in the idiom "spoilt for choice", which means:

Having such a selection of good choices, that deciding which one to pick is difficult.

Example sentences could be:

I was spoilt for choice.
Adam was a complete supporter for choice

It's not an idiom, so there's no origin.

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To clarify: "choice" (esp. in the term "pro-choice") in the context of American context is a euphemism for the right to abortion on demand. Your examples "Republicans for choice" and "Feminists for choice" would be interpreted in this way. This is distinct from the general usage of the word choice. – JSBձոգչ Aug 9 '11 at 13:07
I don't think this reply is anything to do with the question. See my answer. – Colin Fine Aug 9 '11 at 13:17
I don't know about Canada, but said like that in the USA, "choice" is talking about a woman having the option of having an abortion (as opposed to banning the procedure and forcing her to have the baby no matter what her feelings on the matter are). – T.E.D. Aug 9 '11 at 13:48
Colin is right: neither of these usages have anything to do with my question. I specifically referred to the phrase meaning "by preference". – Mike Shulman Aug 9 '11 at 20:29

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