vo·​li·​tion | \ vō-ˈli-shən How to pronounce volition (audio) , 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 How to pronounce volition (audio) , 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 So roughly six years ago, Greene began volunteering his time weekly, loading a forest-green ‘96 Buick with supplies fueled by his own volition and money. Andre Toran, The Courier-Journal, "Full hands, full hearts: Feed Louisville nourishes the homeless with more than just food," 21 Jan. 2021 Graham's spokesman said the senator was making the calls of his own volition. Jonathan Lemire, Star Tribune, "Enduring 2nd impeachment, Trump stands largely silent, alone," 13 Jan. 2021 In the most populous state in Brazil, anchored by the largest city in the Americas, getting vaccinated against the coronavirus won't be a question of personal volition. Washington Post, "Should a coronavirus vaccine be mandatory? In Brazil’s most populous state, it will be.," 6 Dec. 2020 Some of the changes the Lions made were part of broader NFL protocols, and some were done of their own volition. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions going ahead with business as usual after Jarrad Davis' COVID case; here's why," 4 Nov. 2020 Whether this grand jury speaks out or not, that's of their own accord and their own volition. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, "Breonna Taylor: Kentucky AG did not recommend murder charges; jury proceedings to be released later today," 30 Sep. 2020 But if Trump gets a second term and Pai doesn't leave of his own volition, Trump would have a chance to replace Pai once Pai's term officially expires in mid-2021. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Trump replaces FCC member in bid to push through Twitter/Facebook crackdown," 16 Sep. 2020 All these years, Auburn had constructed the narrative that Franklin had just left the university of his own volition. Deneen L. Brown Washington Post, Star Tribune, "Racism denied Auburn's first Black student a master's degree; at 86, he returned," 18 Sep. 2020 This was all of my own volition, but that’s scant comfort. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "The Beautiful Discomfort of Being Betwixt and Between," 10 Sep. 2020

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

1605, 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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Time Traveler for volition

Time Traveler

The first known use of volition was in 1605

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Last Updated

28 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Volition.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volition. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for volition



English Language Learners Definition of volition

formal : the power to make your own choices or decisions


vo·​li·​tion | \ vō-ˈli-shən How to pronounce volition (audio) \

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- How to pronounce volition (audio) \

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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