voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary | \ ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio) \

Definition of voluntary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent
2 : unconstrained by interference : self-determining
3 : done by design or intention : intentional voluntary manslaughter
4 : of, relating to, subject to, or regulated by the will voluntary behavior
5 : having power of free choice
6 : provided or supported by voluntary action
7 : acting or done of one's own free will without valuable consideration or legal obligation

voluntary

noun
plural voluntaries

Definition of voluntary (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a prefatory often extemporized musical piece
b : an improvisatory organ piece played before, during, or after a religious service
2 : one who participates voluntarily

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Other Words from voluntary

Adjective

voluntarily adverb
voluntariness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for voluntary

Adjective

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

Adjective

voluntary, intentional, and deliberate mean done or brought about by choice. voluntary is used of an act that results from freedom of will. Joining the club is voluntary. It can also be used of an act that is controlled by the will. Blinking the eyes can be a voluntary movement. intentional is used of something that is done for a reason and only after some thought. Her neglect of the task was intentional. deliberate is used of an act that is done purposefully and with full understanding of the likely results. It was a deliberate insult.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Unlike in many cities, the curbside recycling program in Indianpolis is not only voluntary, but residents must pay separately to be part of it. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis' recycling reputation is far from favorable — local organizations are trying to change that," 15 Nov. 2019 Tax withholding on retirement income is usually voluntary, but paying the actual tax is mandatory. Liz Weston, oregonlive, "Liz Weston: Get professional help before withdrawing retirement funds," 10 Nov. 2019 But the standard is voluntary, and Ikea for years sold dressers that did not comply. Tricia L. Nadolny, USA TODAY, "Ikea US president backpedals on meeting parents of children killed by recalled dressers," 6 Nov. 2019 Newsom says Atkins’ bill would disrupt a collaborative, and voluntary, approach to water management. Julie Cart, The Mercury News, "Demise of key environment bill could escalate California’s water wars," 20 Sep. 2019 John O’Malley, former director of legal services for the Archdiocese of Chicago who continues to work with the church, said Tuesday the policy with DCFS is voluntary, prompted by the McCormack case and a desire to be as transparent as possible. Elyssa Cherney, chicagotribune.com, "DCFS was supposed to review every priest sex abuse referral from the Chicago Archdiocese. That didn’t happen, so now the agency is opening 24 cases it overlooked.," 18 Sep. 2019 The vaccinations are voluntary, and Rivkees said the state is offering incentives to entice at-risk people, such as offering free socks and bus passes. Christine Sexton, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida hepatitis A cases pass 2,500, including 40 deaths," 17 Sep. 2019 Right now, the only national program on plastic pellets is completely voluntary, and industry-led. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, "Virgin plastic pellets are the biggest pollution disaster you’ve never heard of," 19 Aug. 2019 This is even clearer in the original German title, as the German word for voluntary, freiwillig, literally contains the idea of free will. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Voluntary Year' ('Das freiwillige Jahr'): Film Review | Locarno 2019," 15 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, "Mellinger Minutes: Royals surging, Royals trading (?), Kyle Zimmer and Pat Mahomes," 20 June 2017

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for voluntary

Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for voluntary

Time Traveler

The first known use of voluntary was in the 14th century

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Statistics for voluntary

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Voluntary.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voluntarily. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for voluntary

voluntary

adjective
How to pronounce voluntary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of voluntary

: done or given because you want to and not because you are forced to : done or given by choice
: provided or supported by people who do work without being paid
: doing work without being paid

voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary | \ ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio) \

Kids Definition of voluntary

1 : done, given, or acting of free choice a voluntary confession a voluntary participant
2 : done or acting with no expectation of payment a voluntary job
3 : relating to or controlled by the will voluntary muscle movements

Other Words from voluntary

voluntarily \ ˌvä-​lən-​ˈter-​ə-​lē \ adverb participate voluntarily

voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary | \ ˈväl-ən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio) \

Medical Definition of voluntary

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

Other Words from voluntary

voluntarily adverb

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voluntary

adjective
vol·​un·​tary | \ ˈvä-lən-ˌter-ē How to pronounce voluntary (audio) \

Legal Definition of voluntary

1a : 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

Other Words from voluntary

voluntarily \ ˌvä-​lən-​ˈter-​ə-​lē \ adverb
voluntariness noun

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Comments on voluntary

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