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

Flight bumps can be either voluntary or involuntary. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Why airlines are allowed to overbook their flights," 14 Nov. 2018 Antipsychotics may also cause side effects such as tardive dyskinesia (a disorder that induces repetitive and involuntary movements), although newer ones generally come with fewer serious side reactions, the Mayo Clinic notes. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "9 Facts to Know About Schizophrenia, Which Is Way Too Misunderstood," 15 Sep. 2018 The move came after two involuntary psychiatric holds for the singer in January 2008, the first of which reportedly happened after Spears refused to hand over son Jayden to Federline. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "Britney Spears' evolution, from 2007 meltdown to Vegas residency," 8 Aug. 2018 So have people who get more involuntary goosebumps. Because of this, Heathers and his colleagues wanted to see whether their VGP participants also scored higher on this trait. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Creating goosebumps at will may be more interesting than it sounds," 6 Aug. 2018 Among other things, the law ended what was called the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and chronic alcoholism. Gary Warth, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For some parents of mentally ill, Laura's Law falls short," 11 June 2018 On Wednesday evening, for a few brief, glorious moments, Rudy Giuliani accomplished a task that media observers had heretofore assumed to be impossible: transforming Sean Hannity into a real, if involuntary, journalist. Jay Willis, GQ, "What the Hell Is Rudy Giuliani Doing?," 3 May 2018 The Wall Street Journal looks at seven key operational metrics for their rankings, including on-time arrivals, canceled flights, extreme delays, 2-hour tarmac delays, mishandled luggage, involuntary bumping and complaints. Lyndsey Matthews, Country Living, "JetBlue Was Just Named the Worst Airline in America," 11 Jan. 2018 The California Legislature is considering an amendment to state laws regarding the involuntary confinement of people with mental illness. Thomas Curwen, latimes.com, "Video touches off L.A. City Hall discussion on policing and the mentally ill," 13 June 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

18 Nov 2018

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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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Comments on involuntary

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