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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

At the Agape shelter that Rivera runs, the Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) set up a table Thursday to sign up people for free flights home or voluntary departure. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Central American migrants are giving up on asylum; returning home," 4 Aug. 2019 This makes the Dolphins an example of Tocquevillean America: a nation of strong communities founded on voluntary service. The Economist, "What the mighty Dolphins say about America," 1 Aug. 2019 Sharing video is always voluntary and privacy is protected, according to the company and police. Matt O'brien, Fortune, "Amazon’s Ring Around Neighborhoods Sets Off Privacy Concerns and Claims of Fear Mongering," 19 July 2019 Participation in the system is voluntary on both sides, as the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a trial by jury. Marc Schneider, Billboard, "Senate Judiciary Committee Passes CASE Act Legislation Streamlining Copyright Disputes," 18 July 2019 Industry groups like the American Society for Reproductive Medicine set forth best practices, but those recommendations are completely voluntary and routinely ignored. Dov Fox, WIRED, "What Happens When Reproductive Tech Like IVF Goes Awry?," 17 July 2019 Buckley believed a year of voluntary national service would strengthen feelings and appreciation for the nation. Nr Interview, National Review, "A Political Renewal?," 11 June 2019 Qatar also introduced voluntary service for women this year. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Qatar Builds Up Military, Spurred by Saudi-Led Blockade," 29 Nov. 2018 The embassy continued to tell employees to shelter in place after authorizing voluntary departures of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and their families. Jacqueline Charles, miamiherald, "Haitian officials knew the gas price hike would be unpopular. They did it anyway," 10 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about voluntary

Statistics for voluntary

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for voluntary

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on voluntary

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

WORD OF THE DAY

readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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