involuntary

adjective
in·​vol·​un·​tary | \ (ˌ)in-ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē , -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 , -​ˈte-​rə-​ \ adverb
involuntariness \ (ˌ)in-​ˈvä-​lən-​ˌter-​ē-​nəs , -​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

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 Colorado is one of more than a dozen states whose state constitution technically still allows involuntary servitude as a form of criminal punishment. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Colorado passes Amendment A, voting to officially abolish prison slavery," 7 Nov. 2018 Thum financed a legal crusade to push FourWinds into liquidation and force its CEO Stan Bates into an involuntary bankruptcy in an effort to recover money. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Uresti’s political, legal career unravel fast following felony conviction," 24 Feb. 2018 Rodney Allen, 65, vanished amid questions of investment fraud on April 20, forcing his investors to file for an emergency involuntary bankruptcy on April 25 to freeze his assets. Ruth Brown, idahostatesman, "He’s missing. His truck was found near Swan Falls. Now, he’s been indicted.," 10 Jan. 2018 That sounds substantial, particularly given the involuntary output cuts resulting from sanctions on Iran, but is actually less than meets the eye. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Oil Market Will Help OPEC Do Its Job," 11 Dec. 2018 But uptake of that offer was low, so now GM is turning to involuntary layoffs to help achieve the company's goal to reduce annual costs by $6 billion by 2020. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "GM axes Volt, Cruze, and Impala for North America in cost-cutting move," 26 Nov. 2018

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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Last Updated

14 Jan 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 \

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 \

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 \

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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