voluntary

1 of 2

adjective

vol·​un·​tary ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio)
1
: proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent
a voluntary action
voluntary cooperation
2
: unconstrained by interference : self-determining
a voluntary participant
3
law
a
: done by design or intention : intentional
was convicted of voluntary manslaughter
b
: acting or done of one's own free will without valuable consideration or legal obligation
a voluntary conveyance
4
: of, relating to, subject to, or regulated by the will
voluntary muscle movements
voluntary behavior
5
: having power of free choice
a voluntary agent
6
: provided or supported by voluntary action
a voluntary institution/organization
voluntarily adverb
voluntariness noun

voluntary

2 of 2

noun

plural voluntaries
1
a
: a prefatory often extemporized musical piece
b
: an improvisatory organ piece played before, during, or after a religious service
2
: one who participates voluntarily
Choose the Right Synonym for voluntary

voluntary, intentional, deliberate, willing mean done or brought about of one's own will.

voluntary implies freedom and spontaneity of choice or action without external compulsion.

a voluntary confession

intentional stresses an awareness of an end to be achieved.

the intentional concealment of vital information

deliberate implies full consciousness of the nature of one's act and its consequences.

deliberate acts of sabotage

willing implies a readiness and eagerness to accede to or anticipate the wishes of another.

willing obedience

Examples of voluntary in a Sentence

Adjective Participation in the program is completely voluntary. He was charged with voluntary manslaughter. the voluntary muscles that control urination
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Some states have created model, often voluntary, siting rules for wind and solar plants that establish reasonable setback distances as 1.1 or 1.5 times turbine height – that would be roughly 600 to 900 feet for a modern turbine. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 The prosecution of a deadly shooting from a 2021 roadside clash between a pedestrian and motorist has ended in a voluntary manslaughter plea, after attorneys and the court expressed doubt about the prospects of a murder conviction at trial. Robert Salonga, The Mercury News, 22 Feb. 2024 But the financial reality is that while choice sounds great, voluntary long-term care insurance is doomed to fail. Howard Gleckman, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 The Duchy and William hope the new development will provide proof of how collaboration can work across the public, private and voluntary sectors — a collaboration that is the key to his five-year Homewards program. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 It should be noted that some prisons do have voluntary work programs in which inmates choose to do this type of work in order to learn a skill or, in some cases, shave time off their sentences. Angela L. Pagán / The Takeout, Quartz, 16 Feb. 2024 If a majority of workers sign the cards, the group plans to seek voluntary recognition for the union from Disney Resort Entertainment, which oversees Disneyland. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 13 Feb. 2024 Many in India particularly objected to the mandatory registration requirement for live-in couples and pointed out that registration for married couples remains voluntary. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2024 On February 6, Rizo-López Foods, Inc. issued a voluntary recall of their various cheeses (like queso and ricotta), yogurt, and sour cream due to possible listeria contamination. Jenna Ryu, SELF, 7 Feb. 2024
Noun
Others made the shift into self-employment voluntary after taking the time to evaluate their professional standing. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 12 July 2022 In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi voluntary gave up his nuclear program, but that didn’t stop the United States from actively supporting rebels who toppled his regime and savagely killed him. Michael A. Cohen, The New Republic, 25 Jan. 2022 Virginia enacted legislation in 2021 to establish an auto-IRA savings program and the New York state legislature has passed legislation that would amend their law to switch from a voluntary to a mandatory auto-IRA program statewide. Dan Doonan, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Danario Green was optimistic about returning to work as a JetBlue flight attendant after taking a five-month voluntary leave earlier in the pandemic. Natalie B. Compton, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Nov. 2020 The actual number of layoffs and furloughs may decrease for both American and United before Oct. 1 because of union agreements and other voluntary buyout negotiations, according to company memos. Anna Kramer, SFChronicle.com, 4 Aug. 2020 For players, that means a certain level of accomplishment or desire for a new contract can be reason to skip the voluntaries. Sam Mellinger, kansascity.com, 20 June 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'voluntary.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French voluntarie, from Latin voluntarius, from voluntas will, from velle to will, wish — more at will

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of voluntary was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near voluntary

Cite this Entry

“Voluntary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voluntary. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

voluntary

1 of 2 adjective
vol·​un·​tary ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio)
1
: done, given, or made with one's own free will
voluntary assistance
2
: not accidental : intentional
voluntary manslaughter
3
: of, relating to, or controlled by the will
voluntary behavior

voluntary

2 of 2 noun
plural voluntaries
: a musical piece played usually on the organ at a religious service

Medical Definition

voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio)
1
: proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent
2
: of, relating to, subject to, or regulated by the will
voluntary behavior
voluntarily adverb

Legal Definition

voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio)
1
a
: proceeding from one's own free choice or consent rather than as the result of duress, coercion, or deception
a voluntary statement
b
: not compelled by law : done as a matter of choice or agreement
voluntary arbitration
c
: made freely and with an understanding of the consequences
a voluntary plea of guilty
2
: done by design or intention
3
: made without valuable consideration or for nominal consideration
a voluntary conveyance
voluntarily
ˌvä-lən-ˈter-ə-lē
adverb
voluntariness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on voluntary

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!