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 Swartz faced second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary slaughter charges, the first border agent criminally prosecuted in court. Rafael Carranza, The Arizona Republic, "After Supreme Court rules against them, families in cross-border shootings turn to international watchdog," 10 Oct. 2020 He is being held under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows for involuntary institutionalization for up to 72 hours for a person who is believed to be a risk to themselves. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "Former Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale hospitalized after threatening to harm himself, police say," 28 Sep. 2020 Some long-haulers have been diagnosed with dysautonomia—a group of disorders that disrupt involuntary bodily functions, including heartbeats (which can become inexplicably fast) and blood pressure (which can suddenly crash). Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Core Lesson of the COVID-19 Heart Debate," 21 Sep. 2020 The nursing home called 911, and Ms. Single was taken to a hospital for an involuntary psychiatric hold, in which patients are held until they are determined not to be a danger to themselves or others. Rachel Abrams, New York Times, "Nursing Homes Oust Unwanted Patients With Claims of Psychosis," 19 Sep. 2020 Caregivers have reported a wide range of symptoms in children, including involuntary urination and social withdrawal, said Nisrine Tawily, a child protection specialist at UNICEF. Washington Post, "For Beirut’s traumatized survivors, days of waking nightmares and nights of troubled dreams," 10 Sep. 2020 The report found that a paltry 9 percent of those who were subjected to five or more instances of involuntary treatment were then being connected to continuous care. Carolyn D. Gorman, National Review, "California Takes a Real Step Toward Helping the Mentally Ill," 4 Sep. 2020 Coke said Friday the job cuts would come in the form of voluntary and involuntary reductions. Alicia Wallace, CNN, "Coke will offer buyouts to 4,000 workers in the US and Canada," 28 Aug. 2020 Whether the differences involve the under-treatment of pain, withholding life-saving emergency procedures, or over-treatment in involuntary hospitalizations for mental illness, the consistent result is a lower quality of care for Black patients. Brian Rubineau, Fortune, "Why some senior officers are making it harder for police departments to fight racism," 26 Aug. 2020

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

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Involuntary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/involuntary. Accessed 26 Oct. 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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