• synonyms


[vol-uh n-tuh-riz-uh m]
  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.
  3. any policy or practice based on voluntary action.
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Origin of voluntarism

First recorded in 1830–40; voluntar(y) + -ism
Related formsvol·un·ta·rist, noun, adjectivevol·un·ta·ris·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for voluntaristic

Historical Examples of voluntaristic

  • But it is a type of pragmatism quite free from dependence upon a voluntaristic psychology.

    Essays in Experimental Logic

    John Dewey

  • Experience has then no longer any meaning in a voluntaristic sense; it is merely a complex of elements.

British Dictionary definitions for voluntaristic


  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
  3. the belief that the state, government, and the law should not interfere with the procedures of collective bargaining and of trade union organization
  4. another name for voluntaryism
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Derived Formsvoluntarist, noun, adjectivevoluntaristic, 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

Word Origin and History for voluntaristic



1838, in philosophy, from voluntary + -ism. As the theory or principal of using voluntary action rather than coercion (in politics, etc.), from 1924, American English (Voluntaryism in this sense is recorded from 1883).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper