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 How to pronounce volitional (audio) , -​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

His killer did so of his own volition and for his own reason, not at the behest or help of Corey Morgan. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "Tyshawn Lee, 9, killed in 'murderous rage' by gang members bent on revenge, prosecutor says," 17 Sep. 2019 Despite years of experience in the saddle, the mammoth nature and unpredictability of the task forced Long to dig deep and rely solely on his own volition. Ben Church, CNN, "Meet the oldest winner of the world's longest horse race," 30 Aug. 2019 Of his own volition, Pell traveled from the Vatican back to Australia to defend his innocence. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "The Strange Case against Cardinal Pell," 22 Aug. 2019 Alternatively, Johnson might want to call an election of his own volition — either to strengthen his mandate to push Brexit through (if Parliament somehow managed to block him) or to capitalize on any bounce after having made Brexit happen. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "Three ways Boris Johnson could become Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister," 14 Aug. 2019 Many other political jurisdictions across California have done the same, either on their own volition or because of legal challenges. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Ballot measures could bring far-reaching changes to San Diego," 2 Aug. 2019 Hannah's been put in this crummy situation, not of her own volition but by a bachelor lying to her. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Hannah Brown and Her 'Bachelorette' Winner Have Reportedly Broken Up," 2 July 2019 For a handful of years the stance in Storrs seemed to be that the proud basketball programs would thrive through the power of their own volition and rich history while the university pursued a the Power 5 pipe dream. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "Mike Anthony: UConn’s move back to the Big East strengthens a brand that is about national championship caliber basketball," 23 June 2019 Juana herself had never shown any particular inclinations towards governance, but nonetheless there are strong suggestions that the decision to leave the ruling of Castile to Ferdinand was not entirely of Juana's own volition. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Catherine of Aragon's Sister, Juana la Loca, Really Like?," 10 June 2019

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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Statistics for volition

Last Updated

1 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for volition

The first known use of volition was in 1605

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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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Comments on volition

What made you want to look up volition? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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