1 of 3


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


2 of 3


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


3 of 3


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

Example Sentences

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
Over 30 volunteer groups from across the globe contributed to the project. PCMAG, 18 Jan. 2023 Her mother, the Rev. Cecelia Williams Bryant, served alongside him, leading international volunteer groups that distributed medicines and other aid and running a women’s ministry. Deborah Netburnstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2023 Many of the recent migrants have been largely dependent on formal aid, and nonprofits, volunteer groups and the city all say they were overwhelmed by the sudden surge. Brittany Kriegstein, New York Times, 8 Jan. 2023 The blinding wind and dense snow paralyzed emergency response efforts over the weekend, galvanizing citizen volunteer groups who worked to rescue and care for the more vulnerable. Brianna Sacks, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Dec. 2022 The village's vision has been supported by businesses and volunteer groups, who the program relies on to provide clothing and nightly meals for residents. The Courier-Journal, 19 Dec. 2022 Tipsters in Texas border communities would alert volunteer groups in the District of Columbia. Dallas News, 7 Dec. 2022 Election workers are stepping down in droves after being harassed and threatened, misinformation has ramped up, and volunteer groups are stepping in with de-escalation training to be used at polling places. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, 7 Nov. 2022 The task of explaining their rights is often left to volunteer groups such as the League of Women Voters, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and the NAACP. Alexandra Arriaga And Nicole Lewis, al, 4 Nov. 2022
Today, Prince William and Kate Middleton stepped out in their neighborhood to volunteer at a local foodbank. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 26 Jan. 2023 Register to volunteer at sandiego.pointintime.info. Laura Groch Jan. 22, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Jan. 2023 To administer medical care, local veterinarians willing to volunteer at least once a week at the shelter can email hello@friendsofdacc.org. Nour Rahal, Detroit Free Press, 12 Jan. 2023 Norton Healthcare — View locations to volunteer at nortonhealthcare.com/ways-to-help/volunteer. The Courier-Journal, 12 Jan. 2023 Like everyone in her department, she was required to volunteer at virus testing sites once a week when there were a high number of cases. Claire Fu, New York Times, 2 Jan. 2023 The pair stepped out to volunteer their time at the Los Angeles Mission's annual Christmas Feed-the-Homeless event on Friday. Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 24 Dec. 2022 Register to volunteer at www.stvincentdepaul.net/volunteer. Juliette Rihl, The Arizona Republic, 16 Dec. 2022 Babineaux-Fontenot encouraged anyone to visit FeedingAmerica.org for more information on how to donate and/or volunteer at a local food bank. Brittany Kasko, Fox News, 13 Dec. 2022
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 According to data from the U.S. Fire Administration – a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – of the 816 registered fire agencies in Alabama, 79.1% are completely volunteer. John Sharp, al, 30 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1709, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


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 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


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


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


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

Legal Definition


vol·​un·​teer ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio)
: 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
: one who receives property without giving valuable consideration

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