Path Dependent Option

DEFINITION of 'Path Dependent Option'

The right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a predetermined price during a specified time period, where the price is based on the fluctuations in the underlying's value during all or part of the contract term. A path dependent option's payoff is determined by the path of the underlying asset's price.

BREAKING DOWN 'Path Dependent Option'

A basic American option is one type of path dependent option. Because it can be exercised at any time prior to expiration, its value will change as the underlying asset's value changes. An Asian option, also called an average option, is another type of path dependent option, because its payoff is based on the average price of the underlying asset during the contract term. Similarly, a barrier option would be considered a path dependent option because its value changes if the underlying asset reaches or surpasses a specified price. The lookback option and Russian option are also path-dependent options.