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

In May 2018, Incognito was taken into police custody and sent for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation following an altercation at a gym in Florida. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "Raiders guard Richie Incognito suspended two games by NFL," 12 July 2019 This can cause involuntary changes in body movement, behavior, sensation and, in some cases, loss of consciousness. Scottie Andrew And Geetha Parachuru, CNN, "What is epilepsy? Here's what you need to know about the seizure-causing spectrum of disorders," 8 July 2019 The numbers 5150 refers to the state code which calls for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Cal State San Marcos police chief quits without a public explanation 2 years after taking job," 13 June 2019 Muscle stiffness and muscle spasms People with MS experience stiffness and involuntary spasms in their extremities, especially the legs. Elissa Sanci, Woman's Day, "7 Early Symptoms of MS In Women," 13 June 2019 On December 19, 1975, a federal marshall informed Bell of an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the label signed by three of Stax’s creditors, at the behest of Union Planters National Bank, and that the building was to be vacated right away. Brody Kenny, Billboard, "How Stax Got Its Groove Back: A 'Soul Explosion' 50th Anniversary Reissue and Retrospective," 12 June 2019 The forty-fifth president of the United States looms so large in the global imagination that the impulse to measure all other politicians against him has become almost involuntary. Jonathan Freedland, The New York Review of Books, "Jonathan Freedland," 16 Aug. 2018 Ethicists also have raised concerns about the lack of full and free consent and the potential side effects of involuntary castration, including a higher risk of osteoporosis. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Alabama governor signs “chemical castration” bill for some sex offenders," 11 June 2019 Immediately, this season’s director, Andrea Arnold, who takes the baton from Jean-Marc Vallée (who stayed on as executive producer), submerges us in an atmosphere of guilt, enhanced by a plague of involuntary flashbacks. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "“Big Little Lies” Season 2, Reviewed: Meryl, Meryl, Meryl," 9 June 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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Statistics for involuntary

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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