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adjective vol·un·tary \ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē\

Simple Definition of voluntary

  • : done or given because you want to and not because you are forced to : done or given by choice

  • : provided or supported by people who do work without being paid

  • : doing work without being paid

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of voluntary

  1. 1 :  proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent

  2. 2 :  unconstrained by interference :  self-determining

  3. 3 :  done by design or intention :  intentional <voluntary manslaughter>

  4. 4 :  of, relating to, subject to, or regulated by the will <voluntary behavior>

  5. 5 :  having power of free choice

  6. 6 :  provided or supported by voluntary action

  7. 7 :  acting or done of one's own free will without valuable consideration or legal obligation

voluntarily adverb
voluntariness noun

Examples of voluntary in a sentence

  1. Participation in the program is completely voluntary.

  2. He was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

  3. the voluntary muscles that control urination

Origin of voluntary

Middle English, from Anglo-French voluntarie, from Latin voluntarius, from voluntas will, from velle to will, wish — more at will

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of voluntary

voluntary, intentional, deliberate, willing mean done or brought about of one's own will. voluntary implies freedom and spontaneity of choice or action without external compulsion <a voluntary confession>. intentional stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved <the intentional concealment of vital information>. deliberate implies full consciousness of the nature of one's act and its consequences <deliberate acts of sabotage>. willing implies a readiness and eagerness to accede to or anticipate the wishes of another <willing obedience>.



noun, vol·un·tary

Definition of voluntary

plural voluntaries

  1. 1 a :  a prefatory often extemporized musical piece b :  an improvisatory organ piece played before, during, or after a religious service

  2. 2 :  one who participates voluntarily


First Known Use of voluntary


VOLUNTARY Defined for Kids


adjective vol·un·tary \ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē\

Definition of voluntary for Students

  1. 1 :  done, given, or acting of free choice <a voluntary confession> <a voluntary participant>

  2. 2 :  done or acting with no expectation of payment <a voluntary job>

  3. 3 :  relating to or controlled by the will <voluntary muscle movements>

voluntarily \ˌvä-lən-ˈter-ə-lē\ adverb <participate voluntarily>

Medical Dictionary


adjective vol·un·tary \ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē\

Medical Definition of voluntary

  1. 1:  proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent

  2. 2:  of, relating to, subject to, or regulated by the will <voluntary behavior>

voluntarily adverb

Law Dictionary


adjective vol·un·tary \ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē\

Legal Definition of voluntary

  1. 1a :  proceeding from one's own free choice or consent rather than as the result of duress, coercion, or deception <a voluntary statement> b :  not compelled by law :  done as a matter of choice or agreement <voluntary arbitration> c :  made freely and with an understanding of the consequences <a voluntary plea of guilty>

  2. 2 :  done by design or intention

  3. 3 :  made without valuable consideration or for nominal consideration <a voluntary conveyance>

voluntarily \ˌvä-lən-ˈter-ə-lē\ adverb
voluntariness noun

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