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American Style Options can be exercised at any time prior to expiry. Most Stock Options are American Style, but Index Options are generally European Style which means they can only be exercised on the expiry date (see the European Style definition for more details).

Note that the terms 'European' and 'American' have no relationship with the geographical location of the venue where a given instrument is traded, so it is possible to have American Style Options on European stocks.
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Contributed by: Ralph Windsor

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American vs. European Style Options

Simple explanation of the difference between American and European Style Options.

View Option Alpha in Options Market Glossary Directory


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Option Style
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_style

Wikipedia article on Option Styles. Covers more than European and American definitions and includes some more obscure styles also.

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American Style
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/americanoption.asp

Investopedia definition of American Style Options.

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Option Styles: American Vs. European
http://www.learningmarkets.com/option-styles-american-vs-european/

Detailed explanation of American vs European style options.

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American vs. European Style Options

Simple explanation of the difference between American and European Style Options.

View Option Alpha in Options Market Glossary Directory