vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio) \

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


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



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

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 In a 2003 Enquirer article, Ted Bushelman, Southbank volunteer and longtime director of communications at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, said purple is a good color for public use, such as a bridge. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 9 Aug. 2022 Yulia Paievska, who was slated to compete in the Duke of Sussex's Invictus Games as part of Team Ukraine, was serving as a volunteer paramedic when she was captured by Russian forces in March. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 8 Aug. 2022 The last fire that Malian volunteer Moha Ag Assadeck fought was Feb. 4, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. under the Sahelian sun. Nick Roll, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Aug. 2022 The extras, who will be volunteer, will report to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave., in the afternoon to portray attendees at a charity gala. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 8 Aug. 2022 Still, several dozen Russian regions have created volunteer battalions for stealthily boosting manpower. Evan Gershkovich, WSJ, 8 Aug. 2022 Eunji Ryu, a high school volunteer at a Portland teen crisis call center, doesn’t fear talking to peers about their feelings of anxiety or depression. oregonlive, 8 Aug. 2022 Walks are the second and fourth Mondays of the month June through October, and will be led by a garden volunteer and joined regularly by butterfly expert Dr. Michael Perry from UC San Diego and members of his lab. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Aug. 2022 Theresa Garcia is a volunteer of CERT and also a Taylor resident who came out to the event to be of assistance. Chandra Fleming, Detroit Free Press, 7 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To attend or volunteer for a Neighborhoods Day event go to www.arisedetroit.org. Donovan Fobbs, Detroit Free Press, 5 Aug. 2022 But that approach has some shortcomings; employees often don’t spend a significant amount of time in a community and instead volunteer for a specific event or for a nonprofit organization that in turn serves the community. William Arruda, Forbes, 31 July 2022 Jenkins, who quit Boudin's office in 2021 to volunteer for the recall, is both Black and Latina. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 17 July 2022 Already the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to allow a small number of Americans who need a new organ to volunteer for rigorous studies of either pig hearts or kidneys. Arkansas Online, 13 July 2022 Meanwhile, when the captain of the Springfield Police Department surveyed a room full of detectives to volunteer for a special assignment, no hands shot in the air. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 July 2022 Already the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to allow a small number of Americans who need a new organ to volunteer for rigorous studies of either pig hearts or kidneys. CBS News, 12 July 2022 Already the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to allow a small number of Americans who need a new organ to volunteer for rigorous studies of either pig hearts or kidneys. Lauran Neergaard, ajc, 12 July 2022 After attending a Republican event for the spouses of Border Patrol agents, Ms. Flores began to volunteer for the Hidalgo County Republican Party in McAllen. New York Times, 6 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 Good Knights is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that builds and delivers beds to children who go to sleep each night without a bed of their own. Rich Heileman, cleveland, 16 July 2021 Missing Dogs Massachusetts, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, has also stepped up to help with the search. BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 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.

First Known Use of volunteer


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

History and Etymology for volunteer


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

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Time Traveler for volunteer

Time Traveler

The first known use of volunteer was circa 1600

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Statistics for volunteer

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Volunteer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volunteer. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for volunteer


vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio) \

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.



Kids Definition of volunteer (Entry 2 of 3)

: relating to or done by volunteers a volunteer fire department


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


vol·​un·​teer | \ ˌvä-lən-ˈtir How to pronounce volunteer (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on volunteer

Nglish: Translation of volunteer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of volunteer for Arabic Speakers


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