volunteer

noun
vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir \

Definition of volunteer

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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

verb
volunteered; volunteering; volunteers

Definition of volunteer (Entry 2 of 3)

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

adjective

Definition of volunteer (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Farley Mowat was a Canadian who was, like every other one of his countrymen who fought in the war, a volunteer. James Holland, WSJ, "Five Best: James Holland on World War II Memoirs," 3 Jan. 2019 His wife, Alisha Giampola, also 33, is an unpaid volunteer. Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, "How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Other Progressives are Defining the Midterms," 15 Oct. 2018 Respite care could be in-home visits from friends or other family members or by a volunteer or paid service. Jacqueline Andriakos, SELF, "How to Provide Quality Care for Someone You Love With Alzheimer’s," 4 Dec. 2018 Fiona Sturgess, a Leicester City volunteer who spoke to the Duchess of Cambridge, told E! Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Reveals Prince George's Sweet Nickname for Prince William," 29 Nov. 2018 Harry worked as a ranch hand in Australia, spent time on a polo farm in Argentina, and undertook volunteer work in Lesotho, Africa. Marcia Moody, Town & Country, "Here's What Prince George and Princess Charlotte's Royal Education Will Entail," 26 Aug. 2018 Ersson, 21, is a social work student at the University of Gothenburg and has worked as a volunteer for refugee groups. Bridget Read, Vogue, "A Swedish Student’s Plane Protest Went Viral After It Stopped a Deportation," 25 July 2018 One in a thousand takes part in any kind of civic duty, and only 6 percent do volunteer work. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Clocking Out," 11 July 2018 Black has also implemented a volunteer work program at the agency, asking central office staff to work in the field. Craig Harris, azcentral, "Arizona Parks Director Sue Black again faces investigation for her treatment of staff," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Peter Scharer, a freshman at Princeton, spent last year studying Hindi and Urdu and volunteering at a school in northern India as part of Princeton’s Bridge Year program. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Welcome to College. Now Take a Year Off," 25 Dec. 2018 Hundreds of hours of volunteering at their schools so the teachers wouldn’t hold our financial situation or persistent lack of a positive male influence against my kids. Jen Mcguire, Good Housekeeping, "I Raised Four Sons as a Single Mom. Now That They're Grown, I'm Off to Europe.," 17 Dec. 2018 The attention garnered from Mullally’s post led to a series of designers volunteering their services. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "If Megan Mullally Can’t Get a SAG Awards Dress, Who Can?," 14 Dec. 2018 After working overtime for the last couple of years, scientists volunteering for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have now provided a report summarizing what existing research tells us about a 1.5ºC warmer world. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Here’s what it would take to stop climate change sooner," 8 Oct. 2018 Ball got stung in the face in his first moments volunteering at Gorman Heritage Farm. Jim Owczarski, Cincinnati.com, "How, and why, a former Cincinnati Bengals running back turned into a beekeeper," 9 July 2018 Former Giants All-Star pitcher Tim Lincecum is said to have spent July Fourth volunteering at St. Anthony’s dining room. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "The bride nixes a crimson mother-in-law," 9 July 2018 After recovering from heart surgery in May 2002, Marty began volunteering at Hartford Hospital visiting new patients. courant.com, "Martin B. Courneen," 8 July 2018 Projects include mentoring, improving schools and playgrounds, and volunteering at homeless shelters. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Thank You For Your Service. Now What?," 17 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Volunteer firefighters and EMTs took Marvin to a rendezvous point with the air ambulance. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "The strange day a longtime Idaho bear hunter became the prey," 14 June 2017 Volunteer jobs range from helping out in the gift shop and art gallery to giving tours and running special events or keeping an inventory of historical items that are donated. Linda Mcintosh, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Ice cream social planned at old adobe," 31 May 2017 Volunteer background can include: attorneys, law students, and paralegals. Nathan Paige, cleveland.com, "BVU: Change the World Day volunteer opportunities, and more," 15 May 2017

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

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

History and Etymology for volunteer

Noun

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

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Statistics for volunteer

Last Updated

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for volunteer

The first known use of volunteer was circa 1600

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More Definitions for volunteer

volunteer

noun

English Language Learners Definition of volunteer

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a person who chooses to join the military

: a person who does work without getting paid to do it

volunteer

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of volunteer (Entry 2 of 3)

: of, relating to, or done by volunteers

volunteer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of volunteer (Entry 3 of 3)

: to offer to do something without being forced to or without getting paid to do it

: to choose to join the military

: to give (something) without being forced to or without getting paid for it

volunteer

noun
vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir \

Kids Definition of volunteer

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a person who does something by free choice usually with no payment expected or given Volunteers painted the town hall.

volunteer

adjective

Kids Definition of volunteer (Entry 2 of 3)

: relating to or done by volunteers a volunteer fire department

volunteer

verb
volunteered; volunteering

Kids Definition of volunteer (Entry 3 of 3)

: to offer or give without being asked or forced and usually with no expectation of payment I volunteered my services. Tucker Mouse had volunteered to let them use the drain pipe …— George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square

volunteer

noun
vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir \

Legal Definition of volunteer

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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Comments on volunteer

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