[ vol-uhn-tuh-riz-uhm ]

  1. Philosophy. any theory that regards will as the fundamental agency or principle, in metaphysics, epistemology, or psychology.

  2. the principle or practice of supporting churches, schools, hospitals, etc., by voluntary contributions or aid instead of relying on government assistance.

  1. any policy or practice based on voluntary action.

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Origin of voluntarism

First recorded in 1830–40; voluntar(y) + -ism

Other words from voluntarism

  • vol·un·ta·rist, noun, adjective
  • vol·un·ta·ris·tic, adjective

Words Nearby voluntarism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use voluntarism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for voluntarism


/ (ˈvɒləntəˌrɪzəm) /

  1. philosophy the theory that the will rather than the intellect is the ultimate principle of reality

  2. a doctrine or system based on voluntary participation in a course of action

  1. the belief that the state, government, and the law should not interfere with the procedures of collective bargaining and of trade union organization

  2. another name for voluntaryism

Derived forms of voluntarism

  • voluntarist, noun, adjective
  • voluntaristic, adjective

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