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Definition of "voluntary" []

  • Done or undertaken of one's own free will: a voluntary decision to leave the job. (adjective)
  • Acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward: a voluntary hostage; voluntary community work. (adjective)
  • Normally controlled by or subject to individual volition: voluntary muscle contractions. (adjective)
  • Capable of making choices; having the faculty of will. (adjective)
  • Supported by contributions or charitable donations rather than by government appropriations: voluntary hospitals. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "voluntary" in a sentence
  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "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."