1. done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one’s own accord or by free choice: a voluntary contribution.
  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.

noun, 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.


  1. performed, undertaken, or brought about by free choice, willingly, or without being askeda voluntary donation
  2. (of persons) serving or acting in a specified function of one’s own accord and without compulsion or promise of remunerationa voluntary social worker
  3. done by, composed of, or functioning with the aid of volunteersa voluntary association
  4. endowed with, exercising, or having the faculty of willinga voluntary agent
  5. arising from natural impulse; spontaneousvoluntary laughter
  6. law
    1. acting or done without legal obligation, compulsion, or persuasion
    2. made without payment or recompense in any forma 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 statevoluntary schools; the voluntary system

noun plural -taries

  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

late 14c. (implied in voluntarily), from Latin voluntarius “of one’s free will,” from voluntas “will,” from the ancient accusative singular present participle of velle “to wish” (see will (v.)). Originally of feelings, later also of actions (mid-15c.).


  1. Arising from or acting on one’s own free will.
  2. Normally controlled by or subject to individual volition, as of respiration.
  3. Capable of making choices; having the faculty of will.

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