Radio Button

What Does Radio Button Mean?

A radio button is an element of the graphical user interface (GUI) which allows a user to select a single item from a predefined list of options.


Radio buttons are often arranged in a group of at least two options. They take the form of a hollow circle which represents a "deselected" state and a circle with a dot inside for a selected state.
A user may choose only a single option or radio button among the set or group.

Techopedia Explains Radio Button

A radio button is an element usually found in forms and its main purpose is to allow the user to select a single option from a group of options.

Unlike check boxes where a user is allowed to select multiple boxes, a user may only choose a single option for a radio button which makes it ideal for options like gender and civil status since a person may only have one of those.

Since the choices employing a radio button are mutually exclusive, when the user selects one, the previous selected radio button in the same group is deselected and the new one becomes the selection.

Radio buttons are so named because of their similarity to the circular buttons in old electronic devices, and specifically old car radios where there were multiple physical buttons, but the user could only press one at a time.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.