vo·​li·​tion | \vō-ˈli-shən, və-\

Definition of volition 

1 : the power of choosing or determining : will

2 : an act of making a choice or decision also : a choice or decision made

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Other Words from volition

volitional \ vō-​ˈlish-​nəl , -​ˈli-​shə-​nᵊl, və-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

Volition ultimately derives from the Latin verb velle, meaning "to will" or "to wish." (The adjective "voluntary" descends from the same source.) English speakers borrowed the term from French in the 17th century, using it at first to mean "an act of choosing." Its earliest known English use appeared in Thomas Jackson's 1615 Commentaries upon the Apostle's Creed: "That such acts, again, as they appropriate to the will, and call volitions, are essentially and formally intellections, is most evident." The second sense of volition, meaning "the power to choose," had developed by the mid-18th century.

Examples of volition in a Sentence

Tourette's syndrome is a neurological disorder marked by recurrent tics and vocalizations that are beyond the sufferer's volition or control. left the church of her own volition, not because she was excommunicated

Recent Examples on the Web

For the sake of your eyes, don’t hesitate to bring this up of your own volition. Korin Miller, SELF, "Why Do My Contacts Keep Popping Out of My Eyes?," 29 Aug. 2018 The point may be true, but while the Commission is concerned with the end of bundling, any further move to restrict phone makers' or carriers' ability to include the apps of their own volition would be entirely Google's decision. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "What's Behind Google's Enormous $5 Billion Fine from the EU," 18 July 2018 But prosecutors argued that Constand did not have any outstanding litigation against Cosby and is in court on her own volition. Eric Levenson, CNN, "Bill Cosby's trial pushes to its finale after a newsworthy two weeks," 22 Apr. 2018 That is the compatibilist position from whence volition and culpability emerge. Michael Shermer, Scientific American, "Will Science Ever Solve the Mysteries of Consciousness, Free Will and God?," 13 July 2018 Even thornier: What if exceptional straight white men aren’t just losing out against affirmative action, but opting out of their own volition? Lily Janiak, SFChronicle.com, "Marin Theatre Company’s ‘Straight White Men’ don’t have it so easy," 21 June 2018 Russia has maintained the Russian contractors in Syria are in the Mideast country of their own volition and are not the responsibility of the Kremlin. Washington Post, "Syria’s Assad threatens to attack area under US-backed Kurds," 31 May 2018 The company has already made some of those changes of its own volition in response to customer pressure, to safeguard a major source of Russian state revenues, according to EU diplomats, energy industry executives and analysts. Natalia Drozdiak, WSJ, "Europe to Clinch Cheaper Russian Gas With Gazprom Deal," 24 May 2018 The ordinance requires the Sheriff's Office to release most people immediately upon being booked with a directive to appear in court on their own volition. Heather Nolan, NOLA.com, "New Orleans' money bail bond system puts a price on freedom, report says," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'volition.' 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 volition

1615, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for volition

French, from Medieval Latin volition-, volitio, from Latin vol- (stem of velle to will, wish) + -ition-, -itio (as in Latin position-, positio position) — more at will

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Statistics for volition

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for volition

The first known use of volition was in 1615

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More Definitions for volition



English Language Learners Definition of volition

: the power to make your own choices or decisions


vo·​li·​tion | \vō-ˈli-shən \

Kids Definition of volition

: the act or power of making choices or decisions without being influenced by other people : will I chose to go on my own volition.


vo·​li·​tion | \vō-ˈlish-ən, və- \

Medical Definition of volition 

1 : an act of making a choice or decision also : a choice or decision made

2 : the power of choosing or determining

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