involuntary

adjective
in·​vol·​un·​tary | \ (ˌ)in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce involuntary (audio) , -ˌte-rē \

Definition of involuntary

1 : done contrary to or without choice
3 : not subject to control of the will : reflex

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Other Words from involuntary

involuntarily \ (ˌ)in-​ˌvä-​lən-​ˈter-​ə-​lē How to pronounce involuntarily (audio) , -​ˈte-​rə-​ \ adverb
involuntariness \ (ˌ)in-​ˈvä-​lən-​ˌter-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce involuntariness (audio) , -​ˌte-​rē-​ \ noun

Examples of involuntary in a Sentence

Breathing and circulation are involuntary processes. When the door burst open, she let out an involuntary shriek. The lawyer argued that the client's confession was involuntary.
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Recent Examples on the Web The state made involuntary servitude a labor trafficking crime in 2007. oregonlive, "Oregon’s attorney general creates task force to address labor trafficking," 10 Jan. 2020 Identity politics offers a voluntary response to an involuntary situation. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Asian-American Canon Breakers," 30 Dec. 2019 The move places the southern seminary at the forefront of a growing number of universities and religious institutions striving to make amends for their involvement in America’s system of involuntary servitude. New York Times, "The Seminary Flourished on Slave Labor. Now It’s Planning to Pay Reparations.," 12 Sep. 2019 Due to a small malformation of the optic nerve in the brain, Lily has troubles with nystagmas (involuntary shaking of the eyes) and issues with depth perception. Saryn Chorney, PEOPLE.com, "Legally Blind 9-Year-Old Girl Sees The Nutcracker Ballet for First Time with Special Glasses," 20 Dec. 2019 As of Thursday, 294 employees with BP have not yet found new jobs and are on track to receive involuntary severance packages from BP. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "BP Alaska says about half its 1,500 employees won’t be taking jobs with Hilcorp," 19 Dec. 2019 What involuntary contraction of the diaphragm may help babies learn to control their breathing, as suggested by a new study out of University College London? 9. CNN, "CNN 10 - November 22, 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 Participants riffed on the rapper Kanye West’s suggestion that slavery had lasted too long to have been involuntary. Amy Harmon, New York Times, "Discussing Blackness on Reddit? Photograph Your Forearm First," 8 Oct. 2019 This happens because epidurals affects the sympathetic nervous system, a series of nerves that spread out from your spine to your body that help control several involuntary body functions, including blood flow. Samantha Lauriello, Health.com, "Epidural Side Effects and Risks, According to an Ob-Gyn," 12 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'involuntary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of involuntary

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for involuntary

Middle English involuntari, from Late Latin involuntarius, from Latin in- + voluntarius voluntary

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Time Traveler for involuntary

Time Traveler

The first known use of involuntary was in the 15th century

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Statistics for involuntary

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Involuntary.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/involuntarily. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for involuntary

involuntary

adjective
How to pronounce involuntary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of involuntary

: not done or made consciously
: not done by choice

involuntary

adjective
in·​vol·​un·​tary | \ in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce involuntary (audio) \

Kids Definition of involuntary

1 : not done consciously an involuntary whimper
2 : not done by choice involuntary labor

Other Words from involuntary

involuntarily \ ˌin-​ˌvä-​lən-​ˈter-​ə-​lē \ adverb

involuntary

adjective
in·​vol·​un·​tary | \ (ˈ)in-ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce involuntary (audio) \

Medical Definition of involuntary

: not subject to control of the will : reflex involuntary contractions

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involuntary

adjective
in·​vol·​un·​tary | \ in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce involuntary (audio) \

Legal Definition of involuntary

: done, made, or initiated contrary to or without one's choice an involuntary confession an involuntary lien an involuntary plaintiff joined in the action

Other Words from involuntary

involuntarily adverb

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Comments on involuntary

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