View synonyms for voluntary


[ vol-uhn-ter-ee ]


  1. done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one's own accord or by free choice:

    a voluntary contribution.

    Synonyms: designed, intended, planned, purposeful, considered

  2. of, relating to, or acting in accord with the will:

    voluntary cooperation.

  3. of, relating to, or depending on voluntary action:

    voluntary hospitals.

  4. Law.
    1. acting or done without compulsion or obligation.
    2. done by intention, and not by accident:

      voluntary manslaughter.

    3. made without valuable consideration:

      a voluntary settlement.

  5. Physiology. subject to or controlled by the will.
  6. having the power of willing or choosing:

    a voluntary agent.

  7. proceeding from a natural impulse; spontaneous:

    voluntary laughter.

    Synonyms: unconstrained, unforced, natural, free


, plural vol·un·tar·ies.
  1. something done voluntarily.
  2. a piece of music, frequently spontaneous and improvised, performed as a prelude to a larger work, especially a piece of organ music performed before, during, or after an office of the church.


/ -trɪ; ˈvɒləntərɪ /


  1. performed, undertaken, or brought about by free choice, willingly, or without being asked

    a voluntary donation

  2. (of persons) serving or acting in a specified function of one's own accord and without compulsion or promise of remuneration

    a voluntary social worker

  3. done by, composed of, or functioning with the aid of volunteers

    a voluntary association

  4. endowed with, exercising, or having the faculty of willing

    a voluntary agent

  5. arising from natural impulse; spontaneous

    voluntary laughter

  6. law
    1. acting or done without legal obligation, compulsion, or persuasion
    2. made without payment or recompense in any form

      a voluntary conveyance

  7. (of the muscles of the limbs, neck, etc) having their action controlled by the will
  8. maintained or provided by the voluntary actions or contributions of individuals and not by the state

    voluntary schools

    the voluntary system

“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


  1. music a composition or improvisation, usually for organ, played at the beginning or end of a church service
  2. work done without compulsion
  3. obsolete.
    a volunteer, esp in an army
“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
Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈvoluntariness, noun
  • volunˈtarily, adverb
Discover More

Other Words From

  • vol·un·tar·i·ly [vol-, uh, n-, tair, -, uh, -lee, vol, -, uh, n-ter-], adverb
  • vol·un·tar·i·ness noun
  • non·vol·un·tar·y adjective
  • sem·i·vol·un·tar·y adjective
  • un·vol·un·tar·y adjective
Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of voluntary1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin voluntārius, equivalent to volunt(ās) “willingness, inclination” (ultimately representing a formation with -tās -ty 2 on the present participle of velle “to want, wish”; will 1, -ent ) + -ārius -ary
Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of voluntary1

C14: from Latin voluntārius, from voluntās will, from velle to wish
Discover More

Synonym Study

See deliberate. Voluntary, spontaneous agree in applying to something that is a natural outgrowth or natural expression arising from circumstances and conditions. Voluntary implies having given previous consideration, or having exercised judgment: a voluntary confession; a voluntary movement; The offer was a voluntary one. Something that is spontaneous arises as if by itself from the nature of the circumstances or condition: spontaneous applause, combustion, expression of admiration.
Discover More

Example Sentences

With the country in the midst of a pandemic, policy makers and public health experts have proposed voluntary mail-in voting as one way for Americans to safely vote in November.

Another 12,500 employees have retired and 11,000 are taking a voluntary leave of absence for the month of October—meaning that American expects to cut a total of 40,000 employees from a workforce that numbered 140,000 at the start of the pandemic.

From Fortune

“They’re looking under the couch cushions for every megawatt hour in the West but aren’t willing to pay for someone’s voluntary action,” he says.

This bill would require anyone who operates a contact tracing app to collaborate with public health officials, make app use voluntary and prevent commercial use of data collected by the apps.

Humans For Humanity is a non profit, voluntary organisation run by a 25 year old social worker, Anurag Chauhan who is working on a project called WASH – Women Sanitation Hygiene from 2015.

Our world is in so many ways more based on voluntary exchange than ever before.

“I see the celebs capitalizing on all these leaks, whether voluntary or not,” wrote Reddit user attacktei.

The Non-GMO Project, on the other hand, provides a voluntary way for manufacturers to declare themselves GMO free.

Certification is voluntary only insofar as work as a physician is voluntary.

UNRWA is funded by voluntary contributions, but Arab and predominantly Islamic nations are rarely among the top donors.

This system had been in full operation in both districts prior to the general application of the voluntary system.

It therefore took under favorable consideration the question of a voluntary clearing system.

This is secured only by right objects of thought; it is impossible to reach it by voluntary mechanics.

Our voluntary service regulars are the last descendants of those rulers of the ancient world, the Roman Legionaries.

A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions.


Related Words




voluntarismVoluntary Aid Detachment