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 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

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 law that governs military commissions requires that any admission a defendant makes has to have been voluntary. New York Times, "Bracing for a Busy Year at Guantánamo’s War Court," 10 Jan. 2020 In 2015, the Coast Guard started requiring boats that fish a certain distance offshore go through a dockside inspection, which had previously been voluntary. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "In Alaska, commercial fishing remains dangerous despite increased safety measures," 4 Jan. 2020 Wisconsin prosecutors have long held that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. Scott Bauer, Twin Cities, "Wisconsin governor rejects pardon for Brendan Dassey of ‘Making a Murderer’," 20 Dec. 2019 Wisconsin prosecutors have long held that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. NBC News, "'Making a Murderer' offender Brendan Dassey won't get pardon, Wisconsin governor says," 20 Dec. 2019 Britain already has two such schemes: one, in prison, is voluntary; another, on release, is mandatory. The Economist, "How to rehabilitate a terrorist," 5 Dec. 2019 Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. Fox News, "Trump can begin steps to pull US out of Paris climate deal," 4 Nov. 2019 Trump has been promising to pull out of the Paris deal since 2017, often mischaracterizing the terms of the agreement, which are voluntary. CBS News, "Trump administration starts formally pulling out of the Paris climate deal," 4 Nov. 2019 The Ziara is voluntary and holds little significance in Sunni tradition. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Millions march in Iraq in annual Arbaeen Shiite pilgrimage," 19 Oct. 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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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 15th century

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Statistics for voluntary

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Voluntary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/voluntary. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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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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