volunteer

1 of 3

noun

vol·​un·​teer ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio)
1
: a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service: such as
a
: one who enters into military service voluntarily
b(1)
: one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest
(2)
: one who receives a conveyance or transfer of property without giving valuable consideration
2
: a volunteer plant
3
capitalized [Volunteers of America] : a member of a quasi-military religious and philanthropic organization founded in 1896 by Commander and Mrs. Ballington Booth

volunteer

2 of 3

verb

volunteered; volunteering; volunteers

intransitive verb

: to offer oneself as a volunteer
volunteered to host the meeting

transitive verb

: to offer or bestow voluntarily
volunteer one's services

volunteer

3 of 3

adjective

1
: being, consisting of, or engaged in by volunteers
a volunteer army
busy with volunteer activities
2
: growing spontaneously without direct human control or supervision especially from seeds lost from a previous crop
volunteer corn plants

Examples of volunteer in a Sentence

Noun Volunteers are needed to help with the bake sale. The school was built by volunteers. Verb Our son volunteered for military service. He would not volunteer any information about her whereabouts. Adjective volunteer work at the hospital
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Every week, Elaine Rice and other volunteers tend to the city’s booming feline colonies — groups of cats that have either been abandoned or were born into a life on the streets. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers that have made this multi-agency effort possible. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 14 Feb. 2024 Amy Bloomberg, director of volunteer and auxiliary services at Carroll Hospital, said the hospital wanted to distribute the cards to encourage patients. Allana Haynes, Baltimore Sun, 13 Feb. 2024 In 2019, the process took such a toll that 894 election workers died, prompting the government to urge volunteers this time to undergo health screenings. Sui-Lee Wee, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2024 Sean was a 44-year old former salesman, church volunteer and father of two whose severe neurological disorder left him wasting away, unable to speak or care for himself. Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald, 11 Feb. 2024 The organization pairs volunteers with specific nursing homes, enabling the direct delivery of cards to these facilities. Maeghan Dolph, Fox News, 10 Feb. 2024 Giving the Basics logged more than 7,400 volunteer hours last year alone. David Frese, Kansas City Star, 31 Jan. 2024 Thanks to the help of volunteers — who corral the group to make sure no one is littering or riding perilously — the event is completely free. Zoe Larkin, Sacramento Bee, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
Tonja Cooper of Garland said she’s always voted Democratic, but is excited for Haley and even signed up at the event to volunteer for her campaign. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 Feb. 2024 Former Dodgers first baseman Garvey was a pitchman for family-friendly Nestle Quik, Lee volunteered with the revolutionary Black Panther Party, Porter taught consumer protection law at UC Irvine and Schiff was a federal prosecutor. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Thieriot plays Bode Donovan, a convict who volunteers with the California Conservation Camp Program to assist Cal Fire. Monica Mercuri, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 The Alzheimer’s Association is looking for individuals living with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers and those without cognitive decline to volunteer for clinical trials. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 Members of the commission would be able to volunteer for the positions, which must represent each of the city’s 14 council districts. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 12 Feb. 2024 The voluntary measurements come months after Air New Zealand passengers were also asked to volunteer to weigh themselves and their luggage in May. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 8 Feb. 2024 Other outcomes are possible, such as another carrier besides AT&T volunteering to become the COLR in your area, or the CPUC denying AT&T's proposal. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 6 Feb. 2024 In fact, plans for 2024 include opportunities in which fans and followers will be able to volunteer alongside the foursome, helping out at a local children's hospital and other area non-profits. Kate Hogan, Peoplemag, 2 Feb. 2024
Adjective
Within the past couple of years, the group has become a part of Arrowhead Kingdom, an all-volunteer national network of Chiefs fan groups. Hannah Kirby, Journal Sentinel, 8 Feb. 2023 That’s noteworthy for a show based at a high-school auditorium in Litchfield and run by a staff that is almost entirely volunteer, including the show’s star and its producer. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 18 Aug. 2022 Cycling Schools is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Shirley MacFarland, cleveland, 22 July 2022 Unfortunately, there’s no major title sponsor now, and that makes everything tougher: paying for permits, paying overtime for police officers, paying for non-volunteer staff. Lori Nickel, Journal Sentinel, 16 June 2022 The fire company is the only one in Carroll County that is completely volunteer run, with no career fire personnel. Dylan Slagle, Baltimore Sun, 23 June 2022 Glauner noted that Fire Station 1, at 4383 Center Road, was built in 1960 with additional bays installed in the 1970s, at a time when the department was all-volunteer. Brian Lisik, cleveland, 15 Feb. 2022 New York’s state guard is all volunteer, as is Ohio’s. NBC News, 3 Feb. 2022 In rural America, 35% of ambulance services are all-volunteer. Steve Hartman, CBS News, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'volunteer.' 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

Noun

obsolete French voluntaire (now volontaire), from voluntaire, adjective, voluntary, from Old French, from Latin voluntarius

First Known Use

Noun

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1709, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Adjective

1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of volunteer was circa 1600

Dictionary Entries Near volunteer

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition

volunteer

1 of 3 noun
vol·​un·​teer ˌväl-ən-ˈti(ə)r How to pronounce volunteer (audio)
: a person who volunteers for a service

volunteer

2 of 3 adjective
: being, consisting of, or engaged in by volunteers
a volunteer fire department
volunteer activities

volunteer

3 of 3 verb
1
: to offer voluntarily
volunteered my services
2
: to offer oneself as a volunteer
volunteered to do the job

Legal Definition

volunteer

noun
vol·​un·​teer ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio)
1
: one that voluntarily undertakes something
especially : one who without request, obligation, or an interest pays the debt of another and is denied reimbursement from subrogation
2
: one who receives property without giving valuable consideration

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