[ vol-uhn-teer ]
See synonyms for: volunteervolunteeredvolunteeringvolunteers on Thesaurus.com

  1. a person who voluntarily offers to perform a service or other undertaking.

  2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

  1. Military. a person who enters the service voluntarily rather than through conscription or draft, especially for special or temporary service rather than as a member of the regular or permanent army.

  2. Law.

    • a person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.

    • a person who steps into a matter that does not concern them, such as a person who pays the debt of another where they are neither legally nor morally bound to do so and has no interest to protect in making the payment.

  3. Agriculture.Also volunteer plant . a plant that springs up spontaneously, without being seeded, planted, or cultivated by a person: We didn't plant any watermelons this year, but look at all the volunteers from last year's crop.

  4. Volunteer. a native or inhabitant of Tennessee (used as a nickname).

  1. of, relating to, or being a person who voluntarily offers to do something: a volunteer fireman.

  2. Agriculture. growing without being seeded, planted, or cultivated by a person; springing up spontaneously: volunteer tomatoes.

verb (used without object)
  1. to offer oneself for some service or undertaking.

  2. to enter service or enlist voluntarily.

verb (used with object)
  1. to offer (oneself or one's services) for some undertaking or purpose.

  2. to give, bestow, or perform voluntarily: to volunteer a song.

  1. to say, tell, or communicate voluntarily: to volunteer an explanation.

  2. to promise the services of (someone) without having asked if it is something they actually can or want to do: He volunteered me to sand and paint the bottom of the boat, and I don’t have the slightest interest in sanding, painting, or boating.

Origin of volunteer

First recorded in 1590–1600; from French volontaire, from Latin voluntārius voluntary, with -eer for French -aire

Other words from volunteer

  • pre·vol·un·teer, noun, verb
  • un·vol·un·teer·ing, adjective

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

How to use volunteer in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for volunteer


/ (ˌvɒlənˈtɪə) /

    • a person who performs or offers to perform voluntary service

    • (as modifier): a volunteer system; volunteer advice

  1. a person who freely undertakes military service, esp temporary or special service

  1. law

    • a person who does some act or enters into a transaction without being under any legal obligation to do so and without being promised any remuneration for his services

    • property law a person to whom property is transferred without his giving any valuable consideration in return, as a legatee under a will

    • a plant that grows from seed that has not been deliberately sown

    • (as modifier): a volunteer plant

  1. to offer (oneself or one's services) for an undertaking by choice and without request or obligation

  2. (tr) to perform, give, or communicate voluntarily: to volunteer help; to volunteer a speech

  1. (intr) to enlist voluntarily for military service

Origin of volunteer

C17: from French volontaire, from Latin voluntārius willing; see voluntary

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