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

The preferred dividend is voluntary, but comes with the protection that a normal equity dividend can’t be paid unless the preferred has been paid first. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "When Investing Is About the CEO’s Goodwill," 17 Feb. 2019 In 2016, 20 automakers reached an agreement with the U.S. government to put automatic emergency braking on all new vehicles by September of 2022, but compliance is voluntary. Jamey Keaten, The Seattle Times, "40 countries agree cars must have automatic braking," 13 Feb. 2019 To date, there haven't been any reports of illnesses associated with these products and the recall is voluntary. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Cauliflower Recalled for Possible E. Coli Contamination," 18 Dec. 2018 So the agreement included provisions for countries to meet regularly and ramp up their ambitions, all of which are voluntary. Umair Irfan, Vox, "World leaders are working out a climate deal in Poland — despite Trump," 14 Dec. 2018 The commission is required by law to prioritize voluntary recalls, with mandatory recalls or regulation as a last resort. Heidi Vogt, WSJ, "Under Trump, Consumer Safety Agency Aims to Boost Cooperation With Business," 24 Aug. 2018 And have people ever really believed that all social interactions are voluntary and enthusiastic? Adi Robertson, The Verge, "You can buy a wearable camera to track your social life," 12 Dec. 2018 The recommendations included making celibacy voluntary for priests and making mandatory reporting of abuse to police if an admission is made during confession. Samantha Beech, CNN, "Australian archbishop guilty of covering up sex child abuse," 22 May 2018 On the Todayshow Friday, two former team cheerleaders countered the Timesreport, saying they weren’t forced to do anything that was not voluntary. Peter King, SI.com, "On Draft Fallout, Matt Ryan and MMQB Turning the Page," 6 May 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for voluntary

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

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More Definitions for voluntary

voluntary

adjective

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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