Word of the Day : July 27, 2011


noun voh-LISH-un


1 : an act of making a choice or decision; also : a choice or decision made

2 : the power of choosing or determining : will


The employee left the company of his own volition.

"I'd been promoting a novel non-stop for four months, advancing through my schedule without volition, feeling more and more like the graphical lozenge on a media player's progress bar." -- From an article by Jonathan Franzen in The New Yorker, April 18, 2011

Did You Know?

"Volition" ultimately derives from the Latin verb "velle," meaning "to will" or "to wish." (The adjective "voluntary" descends from the same source.) English speakers borrowed the term from French in the 17th century, using it at first to mean "an act of choosing." Its earliest known English use appeared in Thomas Jackson's 1615 Commentaries upon the Apostle's Creed: "That such acts, again, as they appropriate to the will, and call volitions, are essentially and formally intellections, is most evident." The second sense of "volition," meaning "the power to choose," had developed by the mid-18th century.

Word Family Quiz

What 10-letter relative of "volition" begins with "b" and can mean "kind and generous"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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