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

Whatever that number, paired with 163 ft-lbs of torque, means involuntary burnouts on the 240mm rear tire. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "The (New) Biggest Motorcycle Engine You Can Buy," 2 May 2019 Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that's characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations known as tics, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Every Time Billie Eilish Got Real About Living With Tourette Syndrome," 25 Apr. 2019 Then there are the involuntary bumps, when airlines strip you of your seat. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Why airlines are allowed to overbook their flights," 14 Nov. 2018 An involuntary bankruptcy would normally halt other collection efforts against a debtor. Alexandra Berzon, WSJ, "Stormy Daniels Lawyer Michael Avenatti Dogged by His Own Legal Battles," 1 June 2018 These are basically involuntary leg and/or arm spasms that can happen as often as every 15 to 40 seconds all night long, causing constant disruptions that might further harm your sleep. Kristin Auble, SELF, "9 Facts to Know About Restless Legs Syndrome," 16 Mar. 2019 One odd potential side effect of typical antipsychotics is something known as tardive dyskinesia, a condition characterized by repetitive involuntary movements that usually occur in the face, neck, and tongue. Kimberly Truong, SELF, "11 Side Effects of Antipsychotics You Should Know About," 7 Dec. 2018 And yet, in high doses and over the long term, patients often experienced tardive dyskinesia, which includes tongue thrusting, lip smacking, restlessness, involuntary movements of arms and legs, which become twisted like pretzels. Maggie Jones, New York Times, "A Reckoning With an Imperfect Science in ‘Blue Dreams’," 3 Apr. 2018 Both are known carry heavy side-effects such as weight-gain, hormonal changes, insomnia and involuntary movements. Maria Clark, NOLA.com, "Louisiana one step closer to approving medical marijuana to treat autism," 28 Aug. 2017

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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Statistics for involuntary

Last Updated

20 May 2019

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Time Traveler for involuntary

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

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More Definitions for involuntary

involuntary

adjective

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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