Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Done or undertaken of one's own free will: a voluntary decision to leave the job.
  • adj. Acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward: a voluntary hostage; voluntary community work.
  • adj. Normally controlled by or subject to individual volition: voluntary muscle contractions.
  • adj. Capable of making choices; having the faculty of will.
  • adj. Supported by contributions or charitable donations rather than by government appropriations: voluntary hospitals.
  • adj. Law Without legal obligation or consideration: a voluntary conveyance of property.
  • adj. Law Done deliberately; intentional: voluntary manslaughter.
  • n. Music A short piece of music, often improvised on a solo instrument, played as an introduction to a larger work.
  • n. Music A piece for solo organ, often improvised, played before, during, or after a religious service.
  • n. A volunteer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Done, given, or acting of one's own free will.
  • adj. Working or done without payment.
  • adv. Voluntarily.
  • n. A short piece of music, often having improvisation, played on a solo instrument
  • n. A volunteer

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Proceeding from the will; produced in or by an act of choice.
  • adj. Unconstrained by the interference of another; unimpelled by the influence of another; not prompted or persuaded by another; done of his or its own accord; spontaneous; acting of one's self, or of itself; free.
  • adj. Done by design or intention; intentional; purposed; intended; not accidental.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the will; subject to, or regulated by, the will.
  • adj. Endowed with the power of willing.
  • adj. Free; without compulsion; according to the will, consent, or agreement, of a party; without consideration; gratuitous; without valuable consideration.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to voluntaryism.
  • n. One who engages in any affair of his own free will; a volunteer.
  • n. A piece played by a musician, often extemporarily, according to his fancy; specifically, an organ solo played before, during, or after divine service.
  • n. One who advocates voluntaryism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Proceeding from the will: done of or due to one's own accord or free choice; unconstrained by external interference, force, or influence; not compelled, prompted, or suggested by another; spontaneous; of one's or its own accord; free.
  • Subject to or controlled by the will; regulated by the will: as, the movement, of a limb is voluntary, the action of the heart involuntary.
  • Done by design or intention; intentional; purposed; not accidental.
  • Endowed with the power of willing, or acting of one's own free will or choice, or according to one's judgment.
  • Of, pertaining, or relating to voluntaryism, or the doctrines of the voluntaries: as, the voluntary theory or controversy.
  • In law: Proceeding from the free and unconstrained will of the person: as, a voluntary confession.
  • Not supported by a substantial pecuniary or valuable consideration. See voluntary conveyance, below
  • An affidavit offered spontaneously or made freely, without the compulsion of subpoena or other process.
  • n. One who engages in any affair of his own choice or free will; a volunteer.
  • n. Specifically Eccles., in Great. Britain, one who maintains the doctrine of the mutual independence of the church and the state, and holds that the church should be supported by the voluntary contributions of its members and should be left entirely free to regulate its affairs.
  • n. Any work or performance not imposed by another.
  • n. In church music, an organ prelude to a service; sometimes, by extension, an interlude or postlude; also, an anthem or other piece of choir-music, especially at the opening of a service.
  • Voluntarily.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of your own free will or design; done by choice; not forced or compelled
  • n. (military) a person who freely enlists for service
  • n. composition (often improvised) for a solo instrument (especially solo organ) and not a regular part of a religious service or musical performance
  • adj. controlled by individual volition

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin voluntārius, from voluntās, choice, from velle, vol-, to wish.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English *voluntarie, from Old French volontaire, from Latin voluntarius ("willing, of free will"), from voluntas ("will, choice, desire"), from volens, present participle of velle ("to will"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We also began to stress the word voluntary when we talked about the bill to make it clear that we were trying to help families, not substitute for them.

    The Good Fight

  • By the way, I doubt whether the term voluntary in relation to sexual selection ought to be employed: when a man is fascinated by a pretty girl it can hardly be called voluntary, and I suppose that female animals are charmed or excited in nearly the same manner by the gaudy males.

    Alfred Russel Wallace Letters and Reminiscences

  • But we may go further, and inquire whether our volition, in what we term voluntary action, ever plays any other part than that of Descartes 'engineer, sitting in his office, and turning this tap or the other, as he wishes to set one or another machine in motion, but exercising no direct influence upon the movements of the whole.

    Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews

  • IRS response: "The term voluntary compliance means that each of us is responsible for filing a tax return when required and for determining and paying the correct amount of tax."

    KOLO - HomePage - Headlines

  • The deal European leaders reached with banks will see some private holders of Greek debt accepting what they call a "voluntary" 50% reduction in the principal amounts they are owed.

    Default Insurance Market Takes Hit

  • So November and December, more than 800 members and staff who had taken what they call voluntary redundancy, they had taken the package, the buyout that British Airways offered them but they still voted.

    CNN Transcript Dec 17, 2009

  • The "boys" kept pushing for what they called voluntary regulation and compliance over derivatives trading (which would eventually lead to lax regulation on mortgage-backed securities) while Born advocated for actively enforcing the regulations on the books, especially for financial instruments that were a little out of the ordinary.

    Joanne Bamberger: Would the Economy be Different if They Had Listened to "The Girl?"

  • With encouragement from the U.S. and Europe, the International Monetary Fund is aiming to put together by the fall what it calls a voluntary code of "best practices."

    U.S. Pushes Sovereign Funds

  • Now, if these communicating cords are cut, the brain remaining entire, the power of exerting what we call voluntary motion in the parts below the section is destroyed; and on the other hand, if, the cords remaining entire, the brain mass be destroyed, the same voluntary mobility is equally lost.

    Essays

  • Iran is saying it is bound by law to stop what it calls voluntary cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

    CNN Transcript Feb 4, 2006

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