involuntary

play
adjective in·vol·un·tary \(ˌ)in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē, -ˌte-rē\

Definition of involuntary

  1. 1 :  done contrary to or without choice

  2. 2 :  compulsory

  3. 3 :  not subject to control of the will :  reflex

involuntarily

play \(ˌ)in-ˌvä-lən-ˈter-ə-lē, -ˈte-rə-\ adverb

involuntariness

play \(ˌ)in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē-nəs, -ˌte-rē-\ noun

Examples of involuntary in a Sentence

  1. Breathing and circulation are involuntary processes.

  2. When the door burst open, she let out an involuntary shriek.

  3. The lawyer argued that the client's confession was involuntary.

Recent Examples of involuntary from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of involuntary

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


First Known Use: 15th century


INVOLUNTARY Defined for English Language Learners

involuntary

play
adjective

Definition of involuntary for English Language Learners

  • : not done or made consciously

  • : not done by choice


INVOLUNTARY Defined for Kids

involuntary

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

Definition of involuntary for Students

  1. 1 :  not done consciously an involuntary whimper

  2. 2 :  not done by choice involuntary labor

involuntarily

\ˌin-ˌvä-lən-ˈter-ə-lē\ adverb

Medical Dictionary

involuntary

play
adjective in·vol·un·tary \(ˈ)in-ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē\

Medical Definition of involuntary

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


Law Dictionary

involuntary

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

Legal Definition of involuntary

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

involuntarily

adverb


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up involuntary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

of or relating to bile

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!