Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[in-vol-uh n-ter-ee] /ɪnˈvɒl ənˌtɛr i/
not voluntary; independent of one's will; not by one's own choice:
an involuntary listener; involuntary servitude.
unintentional; unconscious:
an involuntary gesture.
Physiology. acting independently of or done or occurring without volition:
involuntary muscles.
Origin of involuntary
From the Late Latin word involuntārius, dating back to 1525-35. See in-3, voluntary
Related forms
[in-vol-uh n-ter-uh-lee, -vol-uh n-tair-] /ɪnˈvɒl ənˌtɛr ə li, -ˌvɒl ənˈtɛər-/ (Show IPA),
involuntariness, noun
2. instinctive. 3. reflex, uncontrolled.
2. intentional.
Synonym Study
1, 3. See automatic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for involuntarily
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • involuntarily I gave way, and in she crept like a big baby, Biddy coming after.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • Then there was a little crack, and Mary involuntarily looked at the lamp chimney.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • But as she sat "hooking-in," the window was darkened, and involuntarily she lifted her eyes.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
  • She turned the horse about, and involuntarily struck him with her little switch.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
  • involuntarily he shrank back a pace, to the first step from the top.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
British Dictionary definitions for involuntarily


/ɪnˈvɒləntərɪ; -trɪ/
carried out without one's conscious wishes; not voluntary; unintentional
(physiol) (esp of a movement or muscle) performed or acting without conscious control
Derived Forms
involuntarily, adverb
involuntariness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for involuntarily



mid-15c., from Late Latin involuntarius "involuntary," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Latin voluntarius (see voluntary). Related: Involuntarily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
involuntarily in Medicine

involuntary in·vol·un·tar·y (ĭn-vŏl'ən-těr'ē)

  1. Not subject to control of the volition.

  2. Acting or done without or against one's will.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
involuntarily in Science
Not under conscious control. Most of the biological processes in animals that are vital to life, such as contraction of the heart, blood flow, breathing, and digestion, are involuntary and controlled by the autonomic nervous system.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for involuntarily

Difficulty index for involuntary

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for involuntarily

Scrabble Words With Friends