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 From a list of terms defined by the U.S. Department of Defense in a report on men who identify as involuntary celibates, or incels. Seth Harp, Harpers Magazine, "Archive: 2020," 30 Mar. 2020 From a list of terms defined by the U.S. Department of Defense in a report on men who identify as involuntary celibates, or incels. Harper's Magazine, "Lost Boys," 30 Mar. 2020 And tamping down on dopamine signaling can lead to side effects including tremors and other involuntary movements. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "Experimental schizophrenia drug could reduce long-neglected symptoms," 15 Apr. 2020 The airlines taking federal money also agreed not to impose involuntary furloughs or reduce hourly pay. Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times, "Major U.S. airlines will require masks to slow coronavirus spread," 1 May 2020 Local, state and federal laws allow involuntary quarantines to protect the spread of infectious diseases. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville woman violated court order to self-quarantine by going to a Kroger, police say," 28 Apr. 2020 Federal payroll grants and loans ensure the company can’t involuntary reduce pay and headcounts between now and Sept. 30. Dallas News, "Southwest Airlines CEO warns of pay cuts and a ‘drastically smaller airline’ if air travel doesn’t pick up soon," 23 Apr. 2020 This person said all health care providers working for McLaren Medical would be affected by involuntary furloughs. Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press, "McLaren Medical to furlough many of its 500 doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners," 15 Apr. 2020 But in the involuntary quiet, many of us also sense an opportunity to think a little more deeply about life. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "The Three Equations for a Happy Life," 9 Apr. 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

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Involuntary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/involuntary. Accessed 3 Jun. 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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